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Full text of "Kit's woman; a Cornish idyll"

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KIT'S WOMAN 



By the Same Author 

MY CORNISH 
NEIGHBOURS 



Crown 8vo. 33. 6d. 



"This charming and characteristic volume of 
stories not only enhances Mrs Ellis's already estab- 
lished reputation as a finished artist in the most 
difficult department of fiction, but it confirms her 
right to regard Cornwall as peculiarly her own 
province." Glasgow Herald. 

" This is the real thing. We do not know 
whether it will be possible to pick and choose in 
this little "book." Pall Mall Gazette. 

" Mrs Havelock Ellis has reproduced most faith- 
fully in her delightful sketches the queer dialect, 
the mingled simplicity and cunning, the attractive 
and repulsive characteristics of a curious and pictur- 
esque people." Saturday Review. 

" ( My Cornish Neighbours ' is the sort of book 
to buy as a present for someone else, and then keep 
for oneself." Outlook. 



LONDON: ALSTON RIVERS, LTD. 



KIT'S WOMAN 

Cornish Idyll 



BY 



MRS HAVELOCK ELLIS 

&gtsU ?) 1 4^1*1. " ^ 

t 




LONDON 
ALSTON RIVERS, LTD. 

1907 



Under the title of " Seaweed " 
this story was originally published 
in a limited edition in 1898. 
It has here been considerably 
revised and in parts rewritten. 



ALL MY LOYAL FRIENDS 



997283 



KIT'S WOMAN 

txf Cornish Idyll 

CHAPTER I 

" LORDY ! Lordy ! this be a weary world 
for the old and feeble. I sometimes 
wonder what us s'ould do without a bit 
o' scented snuff or a drop o' good tea 
wi' a shake o' green in it eh, Kit boy ? " 
A patient-looking man, who sat near the 
fire with his head lowered, raised his eyes, 
and grunted out, " Humph ! " 
The woman was his mother, who having 
arrived safely at her eightieth year, still 
kept the desire for youth so vigorous that, 
when she had a sick stomach or a touch 
of "the new complaint they call the 
flenzy," she felt that God was giving her 
a test for her patience which really ought 
not to come except to those whom the 
i i 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

Lord loveth well enough to take to Him- 
self. She sat month after month, croon- 
ing over the past or wailing at the future, 
sometimes doing a bit of knitting, but 
chiefly patting her wrinkled hands one 
over the other, as if she had a rhythmic 
cadence in her mind, as she sighed 
"Lordy, Lordy," which name would 
certainly sound irreverent on the lips of 
any but the Elect, since it implied not 
only endearment, but familiarity. 
" It's a whishe world, my son a whishe 
world and it's most more nor I can bear 
when I do feel I'm a burden on you and 
Janet." 

She looked across at her son, and her old 
eyes brightened as she made one more 
attempt to draw the man out. She waited 
for a loving remonstrance, but Kit only 
coughed. 

" It's well to be some folkses, that it be," 
she continued. " It's lonesome fur you 
when you be left so long, wi'out your 
woman to do chars fur 'ee. She've been 
gone sin' yesterday and even to me it do 
seem a month. I miss her bits o' tasties. 
You and me betwixt us can scarce fit up 
a cup o' tea, fur you be befoolt in your 
2 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

legs and I be in the same strait in my 
back and arms. Lordy, Lordy, it is a 
whishe business, and I hope the good Jesus 
will soon rid me of it all that I do," 
she added with a whimper, "fur I be 
nothin' but a burden now." 
Her son looked up with a faint smile on 
his face. 

"Yes, yes, it is a bit dull at times, sure 
'nough," he said, raising his voice in the 
musical interrogative peculiar to Cornwall, 
"but it ain't so whishe for you as me, 
mother. I do belong to do somethin' 
more nor sit over the fire like a ash cat 
and wait fur a neighbour to drop in, so 
that in talkin' wid 'en I can furget what 
sort I be now. It plagues me like a fever 
when I reckon it all up and know I shain't 
never be no good for nothin' ag'in. But 
what's the use o' jawin' over it ? I mun 
bear it and tak' the best I can and stop 
snarlin'." 

He stretched out his hand for a thick 
length of iron which lay near, and raked 
some stray pieces of furze and faggots 
together on to the smouldering fire, 
causing a blaze of light to spring up in 
the open chimney corner, illuminating both 

3 



I 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

faces with sham laughter, as if the man 
and woman alike were grim jokes over 
which the flames might gibe. The man 
was partially paralysed. A mining acci- 
dent had prostrated him with a disease the 
doctors called by a learned name, which 
Kit declared he could never quite roll 
round his tongue. Two years after his 
marriage this disaster had come upon him. 
The disease, while leaving him the use of 
his hands and arms, had paralysed both 
his legs, causing a total change in his 
way of life. The once muscular miner 
and hardy man of all trades was reduced 
to making and mending nets as his only 
means of earning a living. 
Before his accident he was a good work- 
man, much counted upon in times of 
difficulty or strife as a temperate and 
dependable sort of man who carried more 
wisdom in his little finger than most 
people could boast of having in their 
whole body. He had acquired the posi- 
tion of mentor in the small fishing village 
of Carnwyn because of his short way of 
getting to the centre of a difficulty without 
the usual preamble which to the rough 
sailors and their wives seemed indispens- 
4 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

able before they could come near the 
point at issue. 

It had been whispered more than once in 
the gossip of the village corners that Kit 
Trenoweth, or Clibby Kit, had not been in 
foreign parts for nothing. In fact there 
was no saying that he had not got a tip or 
two from royalty in the course of his 
travels, for some of his ideas were quite 
" flash " enough for that to seem possible. 
Many a man and woman in the village 
had come in after Kit's accident had dis- 
abled him, to ask for advice on some 
domestic matter, "just to make Clibby 
Kit feel hisself a man again." He always 
gave advice readily and cracked a joke as 
well as any of them, even against himself, 
so that he puzzled his old mates sorely ; 
they could not tell whether the man was 
crushed or not, for he gave them no 
chance to pity him or to scorn him. His 
mother was the real trial to his good 
humour. He had promised many years 
ago that she should never leave his home, 
and that he would always provide for her, 
but now, kindness having come home to 
roost with a magpie tendency to be always 
droning out " Lordy, Lordy ! " " Deary 

5 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

me ! " he often wished, without realising 
any infamy in the thought, that her 
" Lordy " would take her to heaven, where, 
he firmly believed, she would enjoy the 
perpetual youth for which she so continu- 
ously and so wailingly craved. He loved 
her in a long-suffering way with a love 
born of habit but not of union or under- 
standing. She was his mother, he was 
her only idol, and in that fact lay many of 
his worst griefs. She had thwarted him 
in his largest longings because she loved 
him selfishly, and wanted him exclusively, 
and he, in his rough way, had realised how 
she had strained the bond between them 
so tightly that nothing but habit held him 
to her. He was a rough sea-coast dreamer, 
and her snuff-taking and continual whining 
interrupted his fancies and his memories. 
The firelight rested him and made him 
more a lover of his woman and the sea than 
ever. His mother, always sitting opposite 
to him by the fireside, jerked his fancies 
continually to the sordid contemplation of 
a cripple's life and a cripple's chances of 
being neglected and then forgotten. 
" Kit ! " old Mother Trenoweth spoke 
sharply, and even shrilly this time. 
6 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

He raised his head once more and fixed 
his eyes on the wrinkled face before him. 
The thin, old hand with its dark blue veins 
attracted her son's eyes as she fumbled in 
her pocket for her snuff-box. It was one 
she prized, for Kit had picked it up some 
years ago when a wreck had wakened 
Carnwyn into hard work and new experi- 
ences ; for many a home could date its 
miscarriages and its seizures from the day 
when three vessels founded on Scryfa 
beach, and only six men of all the crews 
were saved. Kit Trenoweth remembered 
the day well, and as he looked at his 
mother he thought of it. That snuff-box 
had a tale behind it for Clibby Kit, and he 
just remembered he had never told his 
wife how he came by it. 
"Kit do 'ee hear me?" 
" Yes, mother. What do 'ee want ? " 
The old woman took a big pinch of snuff 
and spoke slowly and a trifle cautiously, 
as if she were not sure how the remark 
would be received. Her head on one 
side and her half-closed eyes betrayed her 
agitation. 

" Do 'ee believe that Janet's seaweed 
messes do 'ee much good, Kit ? There 

7 



1 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

be folkses," she went on rapidly, deter- 
mined to finish her sentence before he 
could stop her, "who do say as your 
woman likes a jaunt now and then, and is 
over fond of fetching they weeds from up 
'long instead of biding always wi' we and 
doin' our coddles and chars as she ought 
to do." 

" Folks be danged ! " said Kit sullenly. 
" Husht, boy, husht ! " she said, looking 
round as if the devil, for whom she had as- 
yet found no endearing name, might be 
within hearing ; " I canna let 'ee use 
swear words like that, a Christian don't 
belong to use such oaths. You never did 
it afore " she was going to add, " you 
married," but she changed it as she looked 
at his face "afore you was maimed. It 
is a great affliction, Kit, my son, but the 
Lord do knaw best, and perhaps He've set 
'ee on your chair there so that 'ee could 
be of more spiritual use to that flash 
woman o' yours than ever 'ee was able to 
be when 'ee did belong to go out from 
mornin' to night and was in full work and 
pay." 

She nodded her head and patted one hand 

over the other in a way which meant to 

8 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

convey to her son that she could say more 
if she dared. 

" Out wi' it ; what do 'ee mean, mother ? 
Let's hear. What have 'ee 'gainst my 
woman ? " 

"Nothin', lad, why nothin' at all. It is 
na me as do talk o' she. No, I allus 
pleads fur she, knowing what a power o' 
life young things do belong to have. I've 
heard many an ill word o' Janet, but I'm 
slow to mind it all, but you do knaw I've 
never thought she was the wife you would 
have took to, no, that I didn't, fur like 
it or not, Kit, they be right when they do 
say that she's a lass as is bound to make a 
man's heart heavy one way or 'nother." 
" Mother, husht ! " 

" There, there ! it's allus the way. Wives 
first and mothers ain't nowhere. I s'all 
be shoved out o' the door one day and 
told not to put my finger in your flour 
sack again, like Molly Oliver was done to 
by her son ; things is coming that way, 
I b'lieve." 

Kit took out his pipe, slowly filled it, 
lighted up, and sent a great cloud of 
smoke between his face and his mother's, 
saying sullenly : 

9 



! 

KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

" You b'lieve all the lies you can fall on, 

I reckon. Do nobody tell 'ee truth by 

chance ? " 

He laughed stupidly, as if he'd like to 

sleep if she would let him. 

" Iss ! Iss ! and it is the truth that fears 

me fur 'ee. You don't b'lieve as a big, 

bouncin' woman like Janet is going to 

bide true to a " 

" Mother, husht ! If I had the use o' my 
legs again I'd thrash every bloomin' jackass 
as dares to take the name o' my woman 
on his dirty mouth. Iss ! I'll use words 
strong 'nough to choke the passons and 
liards as come here 'cause they 'aven't 
enough to do wi'out taking up women's 
gossip. They fill your head wi' rubbish 
enough to deafen a Chinaman. I'm wild 
wi' it all naw ! " and he spat angrily into 
the fire. " I've listened and said nothin' 
for months, but now hear a bit o' my 
mind on this job just for once't. My 
woman's a darned sight handsomer, 
straighter, and" he laughed "decenter 
than any o' the maids up 'long or down 
'long, a darned sight better by yards, 
mind that ! and that's just why she's got 
the women folkses agin she. Do 'ee think 
10 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

I don't knaw?" He sneered and laughed 
roughly. " I ain't watched and walked 
wi' maids for nuthin', mind 'ee. I've been 
a hot un i' my time 'ee do knaw that 
and Janet warn't the first woman as I've 
kissed, but I guess she's the last." 
He sat up and smoked hard, and his 
mother muttered beneath her breath : 
" I s'ouldn't like to say as you was the 
last man as Janet had made free wi' any 
way ; seems to me as females nowadays 
'as too much tether given to 'em, and by 
they as s'ould 'ave the whip-hand o' 'en 
too. I'm not one o' they sort, as believes 
a female can cap'en hersel'; it ain't the 
law o' God as her s'ould, and a sensible 
man soon finds that out for hissel'. A 
woman must be captained same as a ship, 
or her '11 run on to rocks sure 'nough. 
That's been your blunder, my son. You 
began wrong wi' Janet, and let a high- 
spirited, lusty woman get 'ee fast under 
her thumb. The coortin' s'ould be sweet 
enough, but a man s'ould feel the whip 
handle and flick the cord betimes, just to 
show the female as her lord can do summat 
more nor worship a woman." 
She clasped her hands in a resigned way 
ii 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

and looked steadfastly at Kit, who was 
smiling to himself. She was not sure 
that he had heard her, for he said slowly, 
and a little absently : 

" I'd weary work gettin' o' Janet. Lanca- 
shire women must be mixed up wi' different 
stuff, I reckon. It was as stiff a job as 
ever I tackled, and made me sweat often 
enough, I can tell 'ee. Howsomever, that 
time I was clipped tight, for I've never 
been able to make free wi' maids sin'." 
He snorted and smoked harder still. " I 
b'lieve sometimes it's that that do rile 'em 
that, and Janet's face, which makes 'em 
all feel as if they'd had the pock. That's 
why they be all dead agin she. It's 'cause 
they be crazy jealous o' she. If she was 
a hedge maid, like lots I know here by, 
who go like cats creepin' after dusk for 
toms, and ready to tak' men or lads, 
whichever comes handiest, why, they'd 
leave she be. But no, 'cause her'd put 
her fist right in the eye of any man as 
tried to kiss she and 'ud do a kind act for 
any maid as wanted it, they come here wi' 
their cursed whisperin' and sniggerin', and 
1 tell 'ee for truth, mother, they ain't fit 
to wash her clothes." 

12 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

" Well ! well ! young uns will talk, Kit, 
and I canna put wool i' my ears." 
" No ! I knaw that, but 'ee needn't wash 
out your earholes fur to listen better, and 
you be soft 'nough to harken and believe 



'em 



" No, lad, it ain't exactly as I b'lieve 'em, 
but she do open the road for talk about she. 

I don't bear no grudge agin she, but " 

" Iss you do, the lot of 'ee. I knaw all 
you would like to spit out about she. 
You J ave got a grudge agin she. Say 
what you've a mind to. Do 'ee think 
'cause I holds my tongue I don't knaw 
how you all hate she ? Bah ! " he spat 
angrily on the floor and knocked the ashes 
from his pipe and then rubbed the bowl 
of it quickly against his sleeve, as if he'd 
brighten other things than pipe bowls if 
he could do as he liked. 
"Thee art a bit teasy, Kit. Thee dost 
want Janet to come and lift 'ee on the 
sofa for a while. Thee 'ave sat there too 
long and art a bit cramped. Lordy ! 
Lordy ! I wish her'd come home and fit 
us up a snack o' supper, for I fancy a bit 
o' tasty, and I reckon that's why we're 
frettin' a bit one 'gainst the other." 

'3 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

Kit kept up the rubbing of his pipe and 
said stolidly and slowly, as if he had not 
heard his mother speak, " It's six year 
come Christmas Eve sin' I took she to 
wife, and you and old Mother Treglown 
have butted your two heads together ever 
sin' to try and ferret out if she be splay- 
footed, or has a devil's imp inside o' she. 
Iss ! you knaw I be speaking truth and 
you may c Husht ! ' as long as you like. 
I'm going to give 'ee fur once't a bit o' 
my mind, and you've got to listen, for 
I'm dead sick o' all this talk over my 
woman. I've borne things till I'm real 
teasy at last. You hate she " he put the 
pipe in his pocket and clasped his hands 
behind his big neck " 'cause she's had a 
bit more learnin' than we belong to give 
our maids. I knaw she do use her brains 
freely, instead o' lettin' 'em addle for want 
o' big catches to try 'em on. She can't 
help that. It's her nature as much as it 
is for one dog to smell another. Our 
folkses takes an hour to tell a tale and 
then tells everythin' but the tale i' the 
end, and Janet tells 'ee like the click of 
a door all 'ee wants to knaw to once't. 
Same wi' fittin' a man's meat while one 
14 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

o' our maids'll be fittin' up a bit o' pasty, 
Janet'll have a spread o* tasties fit for 
Bolitho himself to sit to, and it won't cost 
as much as a bit o' heavy cake when all's 
said and done." 

" Iss," nodded the old dame, and she 
dragged herself across the room to a side 
cupboard to get the teapot. 
" Iss I it be true 'nough. Her can fit up 
meat better nor anyone I do knaw, sure 
'nough, and " as she put the bread and 
butter on a little round table near the 
crippled man " she do eat it hearty too. 
I marvels sometimes how a female can eat 
like a g'eat man as she do belong to do. 
It do take money, I tell 'ee, to keep she in 
plain victuals, not to speak o' coddles 
which we do all like betimes." 
The man laughed happily. 
" That's it, mother. Hand me a drop o' 
tea and some bread. It gi'es me a hungry 
feeling like to think o' she and her eatin'. 
When I first fell in wi' she I thought, 
that's the maid for me. Her can eat and 
sleep and work, and I'll lay my head on it 
her can love on the same plan. Here 
goes, said I, and I went fur courtin' that 
woman on the same plan I'd go in for 

15 



r 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

saving a ship, neck or nothin'. I'll have 
my man in that job it was a woman or 
go under for it. I knawed she as soon as 
I clapped eyes on she wi' her sturdy legs 
and g'eat long hands and her rosy mouth 

as could settle a row in a " He snapped 

his fingers to indicate the time it would 
need for Janet to square things. " I don't 
wonder they hate she here. I knaw the 
sort o' maid you'd got cut out and dressed 
for me ; she do hunt hereabouts still. 
Iss ! you knaw she do, like a bitch mad wi' 
moonshine. No ! I didna want to marry 
a maid as 'ud sit at my feet and blink at 
me all day and purr at me all night like a 
chintzy cat. It shows what you all know 
'bout me, if 'ee do think as they sort o' 
women takes my fancy. Some more tea, 
mother." 

Dame Trenoweth poured out the second 
cup of tea, and, as she gave it to him, she 
rubbed her trembling old hand through 
his thick hair and gently kissed him. Her 
Kit was her idol, and if she could only get 
him to talk she did not mind a bit of 
abuse. 

" Eh, Kit ! But you're over hard on the 

maids. It be true I would have liked 'ee 

16 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

to wed a maiden like Wilmot Tregarth, 
and it's true as 'ee say as she's allus been 
over fond of 'ee, but if 'ee don't take to 
such as she well, well, thy old mother 
won't make thy bed harder for 'ee to lie 
on. Mothers cain't count on choosing 
their sons' wives." 

Kit handed her his cup and took out his 
pipe again and sucked it before filling it. 
" They sort o' women makes me sick," he 
muttered ; " I could take my foot to 'em. 
The very scent of their skirts spells fool- 
ishness to me. They seems as addle-pated 
as gulls, and they simper and chatter 'nough 

to gie 'ee a sick stomach. But Janet " 

and as he said the word you could not tell 
whether the blaze from his match as he 
lighted his pipe or the vision his brain 
conjured up gave the fire and strength to 
his deep grey eyes "Janet, why her's 
never teased me once't nor tired me 
neither, sin' we was married. Her's like a 
squirrel ; now ain't she, mother ?" 
The old woman nodded. 
"Like a bit eel, too eh ?" he asked with 
a merry twinkle in his eye as he blew a 
smoke wreath from his uplifted mouth. 
" Iss, iss, so she be." 

17 2 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

"And like a skylark on the Towans at 

daybreak, eh, mother ? " 

" I don't belong to see they now, lad," she 

answered cautiously, for she had a dim 

idea he was taking her into a maze where 

she would find herself entrapped in the 

praises of Janet. 

" Well, her's like a rough colt, too and a 

bit of a tiger thrown in." He laughed 

loudly. " That last 'ee'll grant to she ? " 

" Iss ! a bit like that, but not quite so bad 

as 'ee've painted she." 

The old dame grunted, rather bewildered 

at having her own weapons used in her 

son's hands. 

" No, not quite so bad." 

He chuckled. 

" And down below all they things, mother, 

there's somethin' else she be like, and no 

feller, unless he's been at a school, could 

fet at it, and perhaps not then. I can't 
nd no way o' tellin' of it, for it's like the 
lighthouse lamp in a gale. I can steer by 
'en, but I'm blest if I can whistle 'en into 
the boat wi' me. There, you look mad 
again 'cause I've got off the tiger tack. 
Oh, mother ! I wish 'ee'd try and love 
she, for 'ee do make she whisht many and 
18 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

many a time, though her says no word of 
it." 

"Well, well, Kit. I'll try to please 'ee, 
for, as I said afore, I've nothin' agin the 
woman, and after all she do belong to thee 
and I s'ud behave better, but " with a 
sly glance at the man, who was now 
beginning to mend an old brown fishing 
net with a tatting spool " I do miss the 
lill baaby, Kit, and 1 do want to dandle a 
brat o' yours on my knees afore the Lord 
do take me." 

She pulled out of her pocket an old red 
silk handkerchief and wiped her eyes. 
This was her trump card, and she had 
saved it all these months to play against 
Janet. She smoothed out her apron and 
made a grandmother's knee, while she 
rocked to and fro as if hushing a child to 
sleep, but only " Lordy ! Lordy ! " was 
heard by Kit, who never guessed that it 
was a lullaby. He threw down the net on 
the floor and the tatting spool with it. 
" Now we're at it," he said, and belched 
out volumes of smoke from his pipe. 
" She be chieldless ! That's your grudge 
agin she, be it ? I've stopped your tongue 
afore now when you was going to run on 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

that tack and now by God ! I'll stop 'ee 
altogether." 

He knocked some more loose furze into 
the smouldering heap with one hand, 
tightly clutching the iron which he held 
with the other, and as the flames danced 
round the wood he went on : 
" That woman's biggest wish i' this world 
is to have a chiel, mind that ! Her biggest 
wish, I tell 'ee. Her's made in bone and 
belly and breast for that job better nor all 
our maids i' Cornwall." 
His eyes kindled, and the smoking ceased 
as he twisted himself further round in his 
chair to face his mother. 
" I'd never guessed afore I knew she what 
a woman was. They maids 1 walked wi' 
teached me no more o' women o' Janet's 
mak' nor grey birds or bantams. I never 
shot a guess afore I courted Janet what a 
parcel o' feelin's could fit into a cream and 
white skin that looks as if her own finger 
nails 'ud scar it. It's just they things I 
think on as I sit here when I can't move 
about as I belong women and maids and 
mothers and childer and I'm blest if every 
one o' they don't all fit into the face of 
my woman." 

20 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

Seeing the bewildered look in his mother's 
face, he said, in a more gentle voice : 
"But that's not here nor yet there. 
Mother, do 'ee try to follow me a bit and 
you're bound to come round to my way o' 
thinking. I'd cut my hand off iss, I'd 
scoop out one of my eyes as the Bible 
tells we to do rather than I'd think hard 
or evil o' Janet. There is no evil in she." 
He knocked the ashes out of his pipe 
against the arm of his chair as he said it, 
and blew vigorously down the stem. 
" Her's a big brave woman as clings hard 
to a man " his voice was lowered, and 
he looked hardly at the old woman 
" who never can have no chiel ! There, 
mother ! " with a short, sharp breath 
" put that in your snuff to scent it wi', 
and strike out the sum agin Janet. 
You've got to put that fault to me and 
not to she. When the neighbours come 
in next and set up their cacklin' over 
maids and widders and chiels and passons, 
tell 'em from me that Clibby Kit can't get 
no chiel, and that Janet, his woman, do 
cleave to he in spite of it, 'cause she loves 
he, mark that ! and has vowed to love he 
till he dies and tell 'em too, if they can 

21 



r 
KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

spell it out, that ever sin' her knawed 
her could have no chiel, her's never 
mouthed over it neither to me, nor to 
any other body. Folks don't mag except 
o' pin pricks. I'm not blind, and I watch 
she, as you do knaw well 'nough, like a 
big fool, day in and day out. I watch 
that woman o' ours wi' chielder, and it's 
'nough to send 'ee mazed to see the look 
on her face. Virgin Marys indeed ! 
they faces ain't none o' 'em ripe enough 
to look like my woman." He laughed 
softly. "The chielder know she, know 
she for a full, ripe woman as wants 
somethin' that she do belong to have and 
can't have noways as I can see. Watch 
her wi' beasts. It's just the same. It 
makes a feller feel a skunkin' hound to 
set fish hooks for starlings or hunt a wild 
thing happy i' the sun. Oh, mother ! do 
'ee hear me ? I'm sore pressed to plead 
for she like this. I don't belong to be a 
whining ninny like I be this day, but 
you've set me on past my own tongue 
and I don't knaw myself at all. No, not 
at all sure 'nough." 

His face, aglow with the energy with which 

he had spoken, grew softer. The lover 

22 



KITS WOMAN: A CORNISH IDYLL 

had transfigured the rough miner and 
educated him beyond the colleges and 
books he craved to know in order that he 
might be able to understand Janet. Old 
Mother. Trenoweth cowered under his 
strange look, for Kit, her strong, quiet, 
and tender son, never talked to her in this 
feverish way, and she feared he was getting 
" not exactly " through sitting still all day. 
" Kit, my son, don't 'ee tak' on 'bout what 
I said. I meant no hurt to she. I'm a 
lone widdy," with a whimper, " and I did 
want to dandle a lill grandchiel on my 
knees afore I died, but, if it is the Lord's 
will that 'ee cannot be a goodman to she 
as is your lawful wife, well, it is not for 
me to say one way nor another, and I 
didna mean to tease 'ee, sure 'nough. 
When a woman be barren, 'ee knows 
'eeself that folks will talk and say that, if 
one chap winna do, she do often hanker 
after another, specially if her master bides 
always in the house place and she do go 
up 'long at times as Janet do. I don't 
say but what seaweed can do 'ee good, but 
it be far for she to go fur it, and she so 
well set and lively in her talk, and not of 
this country neither." 

23 



r 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

This last sentence was delivered with a 
little of the old venom, for here was 
another sore which could not heal, that 
her son had not chosen a wife from his 
own village and people. The man 
laughed. 

" It's no use gettin' teasy wi' thee, mother. 
I thank the Lord I've taken a maid from 
another place ; I've told 'ee over and over 
again, I'm none taken wi' these lurgy 
women hereabouts, giddy heads, wi' no 
sense nor no fling in 'em. I'm goin' to 
have forty winks now, and so let's leave 
Janet to hersel' ! Her'll be back betimes 
and her'll find me as mum as a gurnard if 
I don't take care. Don't 'ee mind the 
sharp things I've said to 'ee. I'm not 
exactly to-day. There's a gale o' wind 
brewing, I b'lieve, and that allus stirs my 
bile a bit, since I've had to be indoors." 
With this apology he leaned back in his 
chair and closed his eyes, a bit of " play- 
acting " he indulged in when he wanted to 
escape his mother's chatter. She slowly 
pulled herself together and began to collect 
and wash up the tea-things, pondering in 
her old-fashioned way on the perversity of 
young blood. 

24 



CHAPTER II 

KIT TRENOWETH, after his complaint to 
his mother that he was in need of sleep, 
let his head drop on his breast and gradu- 
ally sank into a quiet doze, but in between 
the waking and sleeping he thought about 
Janet and wondered in a dim way what 
kind of power had got possession of him 
to have altered his life so oddly. When 
Janet came near him it was as if all gentle 
and strong influences had come with her. 
It always bewildered him that he never 
tired of her, never ceased feeling towards 
her as if he had but newly loved her. 
One of his mates had once told him that 
it was against nature for him and his 
sort to live always with the same woman, 
and he added that with his wife he had to 
pretend every now and then that she was 
not married to him, and for this purpose 

2 5 



r 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

he took off her wedding ring and acted 
like a lover to her in order to stimulate 
his old passion for her. Clibby Kit never 
felt the need to lash up his old romance 
for Janet, it never ceased spurring him, 
and he dwelt in the heaven and hell of 
an absorption which at times seemed to 
threaten his reason. At first he thought 
Janet had bewitched him when he found 
that a subtler passion followed on the mere 
physical spell of the early days, for he had 
seen so many of his mates bewitched and 
befooled by the fortnight, or by the year, 
and get over it, as they did a fever. They 
always settled down to a good-humoured 
married life, neither drunk nor starved 
as far as love was concerned, and they 
laughed knowingly at the first love frenzy 
in others, which they reckoned to be the 
way of young boys, colts, and soldiers. 
But Janet had curiously become as his 
actual daily bread to Trenoweth, until at 
times he felt he was enslaved by his 
absorption and no longer his own master. 
He was restless away from her, at rest 
with her, and in both cases he was often 
puzzled at the spell over him, which he 
could not analyse or withstand. His 
26 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

depression when she was not with him for 
an interval, on seeing her again was often 
followed by a mood of exultation, which 
in his homely way he compared to " the 
feelin' a man has when heVe saved a poor 
devil from the sea and he finds hisself 
warm and happy between white sheets 
again." Every morning when he wakened 
he thanked God she lay by his side. To 
feel her breathing near him soothed him 
to a quiet happiness which rarely grew 
less. She had educated him as love 
alone can educate. He knew little or 
nothing of books, nor did she, but the 
very scent of womanhood, which seemed 
to lull his baser passions as she moved 
near him, set him thinking about matters 
which had never before entered his head. 
He knew nothing about modern problems 
how could he ? His first problem had 
been how to fill his own stomach. His 
second, how to feed his mother, and before 
he had solved these two the third problem, 
which of course he never recognised as 
one at all, appeared to him when he was 
working in the mines near Barrow, in the 
shape of this woman, Janet Nelson, with 
whom he fell in love, and whom he wooed 
27 



r 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

with a strength and tenacity of purpose 
which bewildered her. Being a strong, 
capable Lancashire lass, she had several 
lovers, as " wenches " always had who had 
any " grit " in them, but Kit Trenoweth's 
southern ways, which, like the modulations 
at the end of his sentences, charmed her 
native artistic sense with a feeling of grace 
and refinement, at last won her. She was 
swept away by his sincere passion for her, 
and the twitting of her companions, who 
called her " chap " a " toff," only increased 
the attraction towards the sober, tender, 
and yet passionate lover who came to her 
with none of the vulgar swagger or selfish 
bombast of the men around her, who 
worshipped money and money - getting 
more than women. Six years ago he had 
fought for her and won her. Two years 
after their marriage, he came back to his 
old Cornish home and accepted a vacant 
place in one of the few mines still offering 
regular work in Cornwall. 
Almost immediately upon his return to his 
old associations and work, when in full 
health and pay, an accident paralysed him, 
and he felt himself at times almost like a 
dead man. Janet had to mother him now, 
28 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

sometimes almost to nurse him like a child 
and carry him from chair to sofa in her 
strong arms. The tender and protecting 
influence came now from the woman to 
the man, for her old powerful sweetheart 
was no longer able to guard her ; he had 
to endure a cripple's life with its physical 
drawbacks. The virile lover was laid 
aside, and Nature, as if in revenge for her 
thwarted plan, had pressed the subtler 
spiritual laws of love-life into the fore- 
' ground, and made the mental war against 
the physical, until the poor human, with 
his pipe, his net-making and his mother, 
presented a sorry spectacle to those who 
had known him as a strong, capable 
worker and organiser. 
It was this subtle transformation in the man 
and the lover which made him at times 
unable to tell if he had more pleasure or 
pain in this love of his. It tormented him 
on the days when he watched Janet's 
strong young face brighten as some wel- 
come outsider poured out news or told of 
some village frolic ; he felt then that he 
was old, grey, and stupid, and she well, 
she seemed to him like a seagull and a 
mermaid in one, meant to fly, dash, strike 
29 



1 

KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

out and fulfil herself in ways he could not 
understand. He smoked the matter in 
his pipe, he said to himself sometimes, but 
the tobacco gave out before he could 
arrive at any definite consolation or con- 
clusion. Then, as he pondered over it 
once more, she would come and nestle 
close to him and caress him in her strong 
womanly way, lay her long firm hands on 
his shoulders, and tell him what a good 
fellow he was, and then he felt happy, 
very happy, until the devil put it into his 
head to argue with himself that if she had 
told him he was a bad lot, but that she 
loved him the bad lot better than any- 
thing else in the world, he would have 
been really happy and for a long time. 
Once as they sat together after the old 
dame had gone to bed she had looked at 
him in a strange way, and her face seemed 
tired and a little pale, too, and he had put 
his arm out, and rubbed the back of his 
hairy hand on her smooth long fingers, 
and lingered over the one where the ring 
told him he was safe. She turned round 
suddenly and threw her strong arm round 
his neck and held him so tightly that the 
pressure hurt him, and she said thickly : 

30 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLJ. 

" I wonder what I'd do without thee, 
mon " ; and he could not answer her, for 
it was as if his very blood had danced in 
his flesh. She rarely said words like that ; 
her northern training expressed itself more 
in tender action than words, and she could 
rarely speak when she felt deeply. 
Kit hungered often for a rough Lancashire 
love speech, but it seldom came. He had 

frown very restless these last two years ; 
e wondered if books or clever people 
could help him over one or two puzzles 
which bewildered him. He was growing 
afraid of the silence Janet always kept 
about having no child ; he felt nervous 
about it as he might of a ghost. Her 
reserve, and her joyless laughter over 
trivialities, which he had noticed at times, 
worried him, and he dared not question 
her for fear of putting his own dread into 
her mind in case his suspicions were only 
the result of his doting passion. The real 
trouble lay in the knowledge, that grew 
upon him in some undefined way, that the 
woman was more than his match, that she 
was hiding her real self away from him. 
The girls with whom he had flirted, the 
women familiarity had led him to under- 

31 



1 
KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

stand his mother, for instance were not 
like Janet. They had no inflexions, no 
modulations worth speaking of ; they were 
within the octave, as it were, and an 
occasional tuning up at Christmas, at Feast 
times, or when a revival took place, was 
all they needed to keep them both healthy 
and virtuous. Love had sharpened Treno- 
weth's wits, and he was puzzled about 
Janet's nature, until he had once or twice 
come nearly to the point of having a talk 
with the " passon," of whom he stood in 
awe as more or less belonging to the 
" gentry," to whom a poor man could not 
easily pour out his human difficulties. He 
felt it would be a good deal easier to beg 
for parish relief than to ask advice on a 
subject he had pondered over until it had 
become a part of Janet in his thoughts, 
and would not bear talking over, any more 
than the big brown mole under her breast. 
He smoked and made his nets and cursed 
himself for a doubting fool when he felt 
an icy shiver run over him as he said to 
himself : " Her's above the likes o' we 
her'll find it out one day, and then well, 
what then ? " These reflections generally 
ended in his declaring with astounding 
32 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

emphasis that Janet belonged to him and 
to him alone, and he was but a poor- 
hearted fellow to addle his brains with 
silly fears. 

One day, after an hour spent in thinking 
over these things, he had suddenly called 
out gruffly : " Come here, wench, and kiss 
your lawful man ; we're spliced for good, 
mind, as you women say up long ; you 
can't get out o' it, Janet, my lass." Janet 
had pondered over this speech and 
wondered if Kit would ever become like 
Nathan Treweeke, who ordered his woman 
about as if she had neither soul nor body 
of her own, and at last gave her two black 
eyes in the endeavour to prove that man 
is made on purpose to master a woman 
and after that to praise God and glorify 
Him for ever. 

Kit Trenoweth had never spoken so 
strongly or at such length in his life as 
he had to his mother that afternoon, and 
the mental effort had exhausted him. He 
dozed as he thought over Janet and longed 
for her return. His brain and spine 
seemed alive and as if tiny hot insects 
were crawling over him, and picking with 
teeth like needle-points the very marrow 
33 3 



1 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

out of his bones. His manhood and his 
self-control seemed to be fast ebbing away, 
and he felt that if he did not see Janet 
he should soon be "mazed." His wife 
had been gone a day and a night, but it 
seemed weeks to Kit. She left home so 
rarely that he thought when she had gone 
that he had some idea of what it would 
be like if she died, or he died, for he 
could never imagine that even in heaven 
he could be anything but lost and " leery " 
without Janet. 

Kit scarcely realised how his whole 
religion had been unconsciously modified 
and in some respects utterly changed 
through his love for this woman Janet. 
The world, which he once affected to look 
upon as a mere temporary dwelling place, 
had become his heaven simply because 
Janet moved in it. The Golden Jerusalem, 
the judgment seat, and the harp and 
crown which had always formed, as a good 
Wesleyan, a background to his image of 
God and Christ, had imaged themselves 
very faintly in these latter years, and he 
had once, in a state of half waking and 
sleeping, caught himself imagining heaven 
with a woman on the Throne, crooning 
34 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

to little children who were playing at her 
feet. It was getting indeed time that 
Clibby Kit should consult his "leader," 
for Love and Religion were becoming 
hopelessly entangled in his simple brain. 
Janet being a churchwoman had got into 
touch with the parish treats, and this had 
added to the feeling against her in her 
mother-in-law and the gossips of the 
village, who looked upon their chapels as 
the meeting place where the worship of 
God was the least conspicuous part of the 
ritual. The newest styles in dress and 
manners and the silent flirtations made 
the Sabbath a day of rejoicing more than 
prayer, and Kit made up his mind that if 
he went to a " passon " about his difficulties 
it should not be one of his own sect, but 
of the English Church. 



35 



CHAPTER III 

"Wno be there ? Come in, if you please," 
called Mother Trenoweth, as a knock was 
heard at the door. " Oh ! be it you, 
Loveday? Well, my dear, I'm real glad 
to see 'ee. Sit 'ee down. It be so mortal 
dull at times here that I'm right glad to 
have a neighbour drop in. Sit 'ee down 
tak' a chair i' front o' the fire." Then, 
as she caught sight of her neighbour's face, 
she said quickly, " Why, what's wrong wi' 



'ee, woman ? 



" What's wrong ? My gosh ! What's 
right, you might be askin' ! Be Janet in ?" 
Loveday Penberthy peered round the room 
as she asked the question, and seeing 
Trenoweth apparently asleep, she smiled 
and jerked her thumb in an interrogative 
way over her shoulder towards the door 
by which she had just entered, at which 
36 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

gesture Mother Trenoweth shook her 
head, and sighed wearily : " Lordy ! my 
dear, her bean't back yet." 
" My blessed life ! " ejaculated Loveday, 
the gossip and ne'er-do-weel of the village ; 
" I be near faintin', that I be ; I can 'ardly 
stan' upright at all" to prove which she 
leaned her stout person against the end 
of the window seat, folded her large bare 
arms, rested them on her capacious 
stomach, and let all her weight fall on one 
leg in her endeavour to ease both mind 
and body. 

" Whatever be the matter, Loveday ? Is 
Jan not so well agin ? " 
" Oh ! Jan ! he be right enough, and if 
he warn't I don't knaw as I s'ud fret over 
much 'bout he. Lazy lump ! He don't 
earn tuppence a week all told, and I've to 
go down 'long o' Mazes to wash and char 
and do coddles for he to guzzle hissel' out 
wi' baccy and meat. I'll have 'ee knaw, 
Mrs. Trenoweth, that I'm fairly done fur." 
" Mazes," said the old woman, " Mazes ? 
who be they then ? But sit 'ee down, 
Loveday, sit 'ee down, woman, and tell 
me all 'bout it." 

"I'm feared I s'll be upsettin' o' Kit there." 
37 



1 
KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

" No, you wain't ; sit 'ee down and don't 
'ee mind me ; mag on a bit it'll do the 
old un good. What's wrang wi' 'ee, 
now ? " asked Kit quietly from the corner, 
for Loveday's loud voice had brought him 
back to ordinary matters. 
" Why ! I'm fair befoolt wi' they up-'long 
folkses, they as have took Maister Lander's 
house up by the south cove. I cain't tell 
what be comin' to pass they strangers do 
seem to tormint the life and soul out o' we 
dacent folkses wi' their flash notions and 
lurgy ways and " with a sneer " as mean, 
my dear, as mean as misards, every one o' 
they sort." 

"They've sent for 'ee then to do their 
chars for 'en ? " asked the old woman. 
" My Lord ! I s'ud jist think they 'ad." 
Loveday threw up her head and sniffed 
the air with impatient scorn. She had 
taken off her flat black hat and thrown it 
on the floor, when she caught sight of the 
door which was being slowly opened from 
outside. 

" Here comes Nan Curtis ; her'll tell 'ee 
'bout Mazes, fur her had one o' they 
lodging wi' she once't." 
Nan Curtis opened the door and peeped 

38 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

into the room in the familiar way neigh- 
bours have with one another. She stepped 
into the house place, and sat on a bench 
opposite Kit, with a friendly though rough 
greeting to him. 
" How be 'ee, old man ? " 
" 'Bout same, Nan thank 'ee." 
Nan wore a white sun bonnet, which 
partially shaded her rough, bony face ; the 
skin was yellow and coarse, and but for an 
expression of intense animation she would 
have been positively repellant in her 
ugliness. She continually exposed large 
yellow tusks, for she seemed to yapp like 
a dog as she talked ; the same sound did 
duty for a laugh or a grunt of disapproval. 
She sat square and taut, braced up for a 
scold or a kind of rattlesnake gossip at 
any hour. She was always clean and even 
prim in her dress, and her shrewish 
tendencies and quick retorts made her 
respected and at the same time feared by 
her slow and easy-living neighbours. She 
and Loveday were great cronies, for they 
met on a common ground : both kept their 
native vindictiveness on the surface and 
both were willing at any hour to do a real 
service for a neighbour. Many a racy 
39 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

story, by which the general world is the 
loser, did these two women tell one 
another over two-pennyworth of the best 
gin. If ridicule and denunciation could 
have re-constructed a community, Loveday 
and Nan would have managed the whole 
task over one noggin of the best Plymouth. 
Nan sat opposite Kit, and smoothed out 
her clean apron over her dark green dress 
with her small energetic hands. Her 
upright, defiant attitude and her straight 
bust, which did not seem to offer either 
tenderness or forgiveness to the fallen or 
strayed, suggested a grim, stern humour, 
and a stolid common sense which contrasted 
strongly with Loveday's lazy slouch, ill- 
kempt hair and voluminous bosom, which 
scandal declared had more than once bidden 
welcome to vagrant lovers. Nan turned 
to Loveday, and preened herself for a tale 
of woe and frolic in one. 
" What's that yer was sayin', Loveday ? 
Be you on the Mazes' tack ? Lord ! 
'ee've been to char for they ain't 'ee ? " 
A toss of the head was all the answer 
Loveday gave, but she looked fixedly at 
her friend for a moment, and then winked, 
at which the other yapped. 
40 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

"They be parties sure 'nough. How 
did they sarve 'ee, then ? " 
" Sarve me ! Why, woman they sarved 
me so spicey that I can't sit down, I'm 
that sore." She rubbed affectionately the 
afflicted portion of her body and coughed 
as she saw Kit smiling to himself in the 
corner. " My dear life ! I cain't even 
move my arm to my head, I'm that stiff; 
I cain't think what up-'long folkses think 
we's made of. Naw ! " settling down 
into a heap in order to tell her tale with 
more ease. " Just listen ! I goes to they 
Mazes fust thing i' the mornin', and then 
it's fust one thing and then it's another, 
clack and clatter from daybreak to mid- 
night. My dear" with a loud laugh 
and addressing Nan " they do belong to 
have their knives claned wi' some stuff or 
'nother every day, every blessed mornin', 
I tell 'ee, and I've got to shine their 
bloomin' shoes, not once't a week, mind 
'ee, but every day." 

" Lordy, Lordy ! " sang the old dame, 
" would 'ee believe it, then ? One 'ud 
almost think they made a particular habit 
o' fmdin' mud to dirty 'em. It ain't 
exactly seemly, seems to me, to dirt all 



1 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

over your shoes every day ; I s'udn't a 
thought gentry would act so like working 
folkses." 

" Gentry ! they sort gentry ! my blessed ! 
They ain't no gentry ! They do save up 
every crumble, and 'cause they can hitch 
up a veil to their hats o' Sundays they 
looks down on we folkses as 'as to work 
for they. Darned upstairts ! that's what 
they be." She beat her foot impatiently 
on the brick floor and looked envious. 
"You be right there, Loveday. They 
sort mak's their money up along and 
comes down along to save it on we. Ah ! 
ah ! ah ! Well, what else had 'ee to do ? " 
"Why, it's all fetchin' and carryin' and 
bowin' and scrapin', and they expects a 
bloomin' lot o' mag wi' it, too. They's 
for ever ' beggin' pardin' and wants me to 
do the same most all day and for nothin' 
too. I cain't mak' it out. If they do 
hutch up too close to one 'nother they 
smirks thisards " imitating an inclination 
of the head and a slow drawl " c beggin' o' 
your pardin ! ' Lawks ! look at the old 
un ; her's doin' it too," for the old 
woman was so keenly following Loveday's 
tale that she had unconsciously smirked 
42 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

and made a movement with her lips. 
" It's all 'nough to turn your stomach, 
and I said right out once't that I'd beg no 
pardins to no one for doin' no wrang to 'em ! 
I knaws gentry, Clibby Kit," with a direct 
look at the cripple, " I knaw they well 
'nough when I see they and if I do any 
person a hurt I'm not so over-proud but 
what I'll say I'm sorry for it, that is, if I 
be sorry, you knaw " with an apologetic 
smile at Nan "but they must be fittey 
like if I'm to bend my pride to they, and 
not upstairts as cain't fairly pay for a drop 
o' milk when they've drunk it." 
A loud laugh came from Nan at this point, 
for she knew the farm where the milk 
was bought, and she could back Loveday's 
assertion with another tale about unpaid 
debts. 

" Iss ! Iss ! but what's the good o' keep 
beggin' pardin, Loveday ; what's it fur at 
all ? " asked the old woman. 
" Summat to do, I s'ud reckon. I told 
Mrs Maze pretty quick that I warn't 

foin' to beg pardins to no one, and that 
er bluid and mine, I guessed, was maistly 
of the same colour both on us seemingly 
has red bluid in we and not black, least- 

43 



1 
KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

ways I ain't noane inside o' me and then I 
up and told she if anyone was to beg pardins, 
it was she and not me. Iss ! I did," em- 
phatically, for there was an incredulous 
smile creeping over Nan's face. " I just up 
and said they very words to she, and why ? " 
Loveday drew her chair closer to the fire 
and crossed her legs. 

"Would you believe it of the mean 
woman ? They had a roast sent into the 
dinin' room for theirsels, and what do 'ee 
think was put abroad on the table fur me ?" 
pointing with a fat finger to her capacious 
chest. 

" Nay ! I canna guess," said the old 
woman, whose eyes gleamed at this rare 
chance of village gossip. " What were it 
then ? " 

" Heavy cake, I s'ud say," snarled Nan, 
whose experiences in the gluttony of 
lodgers and " up-'long " people was sad. 
" No, woman ; it weren't even that. It were 
a rusty herrin' and a bit o' stale bread." 
" Lordy, Lordy ! did anybody ever hear 
the likes o' that, but I've allus heard that 
the strangers and artises be very sparey," 
said Mother Trenoweth. 
" Divil tak' the bastely misards," grunted 
44 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

Nan. "What did 'ee do? Did 'ee eat 
'en at all ? " 

" Eat 'en ? " with a fine scorn. " I just 
took 'en right under her nose when her'd 
corned out o' the dinin' room stuffed full 
o' flesh meat, and I said to she : c Here, 
missis ! yer cat must be a stranger, too, 
I reckon ! her don't tak' to rusty herrin's 
neither do she ? Her's waitin' seemly 
fur the roast, I'm thinkin'.' " 
Loveday clasped her hands round her 
crossed knee and chuckled. 
" Drat 'ee ! Did 'ee say that fur sure ? " 
cried Nan. 

" Iss ! sure 'nough that I did, to try fur to 
shame she. And that's not all, my girl," 
and Loveday clapped her hands and 
changed the position of her legs. She 
screwed up her eyes as if in pain as she 
did this ; winked and nodded to the two 
women and looked across at Kit. " I can 
scarce move easy yet : it's the butter- 
makin' and the scrubbin' all to once't. 
Think of a shillin' a day for to char and 
rub and scrub and mak' butter as well. 
You knaw I can wash well 'nough ; I've 
done it anyways for the last fifteen year 
and more eh, Nan ? " 

45 



1 
KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

" That 'ee can, my dear," answered Nan, 
" and git the dirt out o' the clathes wi'out 
any muck put i' the watter to rend 'em 
abroad as soon as they're on a body's 
back agin. Didna your washin' suit 'en 
neither ? " 

Loveday put her hands to her sides and 
laughed loudly. 

" Oh ! my Lord ! I'll leave 'ee knaw a 
thing or two. If Kit there don't like 
what I'm goin' to say, I cain't help 'en, 
but somehow now I allus look on 'ee more 
like a woman than a man, wi' allus bein' 
in and listenin' to our mag eh ? " She 
looked kindly at Kit. 
" Iss ! I suppose you do. I'm not harkin' 
much, Loveday, and if you don't talk too 
loud I cain't hear 'ee, if it's summat as 
belongs to women folkses." 
He glanced at Loveday with a look which 
combined repulsion and familiarity. 
" Well ! my dear," addressing Nan, " after 
I'd got through all they chars and the 
butter and washed and dried and mangled 
all they clothes (it took me three days' 
slavin' like a nigger, till I'm a mass o' 
sores, I tell 'ee), what do 'ee think that 
pert Miss Maze had to say to it all ? My 
46 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

blessed life ! Her coomed into me like 
this if you please." 

Loveday got up and mimicked fine lady- 
dom so well that all three shouted with 
laughter, and Kit chuckled as he called for 
more tobacco. 

"* Pen ! ' (the cheek o' she cuttin' my 
name i' two like that) c Pen ! ' says she," 
and the rough loud voice sank to a 
mincing treble, " c you have not starched 
the legs o' my drawseses, and Ma and me 
allus likes our laces starched. 1 Naw ! 
what do 'ee think o' that fur lustful 
pride ? " 

" My dear life ! " from Nan. " 'Ee cain't 
mean that, sure 'nough ! " She rocked 
backwards and forwards and showed her 
large yellow tusks with delight and amaze- 
ment. 

" Did 'ee ever ! Oh ! my patience on us ! 
starch i' their drawseses ! Well ! well ! 
they be up-'long notions ! " 
"And that ain't all," amicably continued 
Loveday, " but it's the same wi' the lace 
on their night shifts too, and all sorts o' 
different clathes as they do wear ; it ain't 
only i' the legs o' their drawseses, I can 
tell 'ee," with a mysterious wink at Nan. 
47 



1 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

" Lordy, Lordy ! I wonder they can 
sleep i' comfort," said the old woman, 
moving her neck from side to side as if 
she could feel the stiff laces like a halter 
round her throat. 

"What did 'ee say to she when her'd 
asked 'ee to do such an unbeknown thing 
as that, Loveday ? " queried Nan. Love- 
day had seated herself again and was 
gazing with the air of a conquering 
heroine into the fire. 
" I said to she, c Starch i' drawseses, Miss 
Maze ? ' Eduth, her maiden name be, 
and after that I'd a real mind to call she 
that to her face. c Iss ! ' says I to she 
c iss ! I'll put starch i' your drawseses, and 
all over 'em too ! ' 

" Oh ! Oh ! Oh ! Darn 'ee ! " from Nan. 
" That's one o' the best you've ever given 
they sort, Loveday. They cain't get to 
the windward o' you. What did the fule 
say to 'ee then ? " 

"Well," answered Loveday, modestly, 
" I'm not altogether sure her heard that 
last, else her didn't quite pick out what 
the meanin' o' it were, but her went to 
the cupboard and gave me the starch, and," 
with a broad grin, " her's got starch 'nough 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

in her drawseses now as'll let she knaw 
what my body do feel like after doin' 
chars 'nough fur a month fur one day's 
pay." 

" Up-'long folkses ain't all so near as 
Mazes be, Loveday, yer must mind that. 
Do 'ee recollect that poor devil Macnab 
as lodged wi' me last winter ? I tended 
he like my own chiel. He'd no sich ways 
'long o' he, I can tell 'ee. He was as free 
to help 'ee as to laugh at 'ee, but sickly, 
sure enough." 

Nan took the corner of her white apron 
and blew her nose vigorously. 
" I did take to that feller, and I'm whisht 
many a time when I do think o' 'en, poor 
fule." 

"What's become o' he sin' he went to 
foreign pairts ? " asked Loveday. 
" My gosh ! ain't I never told 'ee ? Well ! 
well ! I b'lieve I took it pretty hard and 
said nothin' of it for long 'nough. My 
blessed life ! he be turned into a pepper- 
dredge, so I've 'card ! " She beat the 
ground quickly and fiercely with her foot 
as she continued in an injured tone : 
" That's a poor 'nough end for a fellow to 
come to after all the slavin' I did for 'en. 
49 4 



1 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

I've rubbed that man's back, which was 
nothin' to begin wi' but a loose sack full 
o' nails, I 'ave rubbed 'en till it were 
blistered many a time, and made 'en coddles 
enough to frighten 'ee to tempt his appetite. 
Old Nancy Nanquitho's stuff did nothin' 
at all for he. I don't want to say nothin' 
for to dishearten Kit there, but it seems 
to me that that seaweed oil is nothin' but 
a snare to trap a fule's money." 
" P'raps the oil bean't much worth for a 
decline, Nan," answered Kit. " It be good, 
I b'lieve, for seizures and rheumatics, 
leastways that's what her's told Janet that 
it's maistly fur." 

Loveday winked at Nan and said surlily : 
" Some folkses is o'er fond o' jawing to 
your woman, Kit, and they do feed her 
mind wi' untruths, I'm fearin'. I don't 
b'lieve mysel' in folkses livin' i' huts when 
there's housen near by to be had for 
almost nothin'. If I was thee, Kit, I'd 
stop Janet from going too much wi' the 
likes o' Nancy Nanquitho. There be 
folkses near by as 'ud place her character 
i' the bottom of a beer mug and then 
declare you couldn't find 'en, drunk nor 
sober." 

5 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

The old woman clasped her hands and 

turned her thumbs one over the other as 

she watched her son's face, but she said 

no word for or against the old witch 

doctor. 

Kit laughed. 

" Perhaps the woman 'ave melted her 

character into the seaweed stuff and it'll 

come out by and by in we. My legs is 

better for it, that I'll swear. There be a 

damned sight more witches livin' i' housen 

than i' huts, let me tell 'ee." 

Nan and Loveday laughed at this sharp 

hit at the village women, but the old 

dame feared that they were getting on 

dangerous ground. 

" 'Ee was joking, Nan, surely, wan't 'ee, 

when 'ee said as Maister Macnab was 

made into a pepper-dredge ? " 

" No ! I warn't jokin' at all ! not a bit 

of it. Some feller wrote to one o' they 

artises as is staying wi' Jane Hocking, 

and by all accounts he'd seen it done and 

wrote to tell she all about it." 

" My blessed ! " grunted Loveday, " it do 

sound like some devil's trick or 'nother ; 

I su'd 'ave thought the police 'ud have 

stopped sich goin's on." 



r 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

" Don't 'ee see, Loveday, my dear, they 
burnt 'en first ; took 'en, poor feller, and 
put 'en inside of a big oven, so they do 
say, and fairly roasted the poor devil until 
well my dear life ! it's awful to think 
on it, until he was nothin' but dust and 
ashes like that there ! " pointing to the 
white ash from the burnt-out wood which 
lay in a heap on the red tiles of the hearth- 
place. 

" Lordy, Lordy ! it do fair make a body's 
flesh go crawly ; it's worse than murder, 
seems to me," wailed Mother Trenoweth. 
" Iss ! so it be. I lies awake at nights 
sometimes and thinks o' he afore he went 
away, and I'm forced to get up and tak' a 
drop o' hot ginger to soothe my stomach. 
The thought o' that dear man bein' rent 
limb from limb wi' no soul by to save 'en 
makes all the wind i' my stomach fly to 
my head. They say as after he was burnt 
to nothin', as you might say, they took 
what was left or 'en and poured 'en into a 
pepper-dredge. I could hardly credit it, 
but they as told me says as this sort o' 
buryin' is coming over to we from foreign 
pairts, but I don't 'ardly b'lieve it." 
" Well ! I hope to the Lord it won't be 
52 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

made into law afore I'm safely under the 
ground. I s'ud feel as shamed as a maid 
to 'ave strange men a-fingerin' my corpse, 
I can tell 'ee. I hope I may be orderly 
and becomin'ly buried when my time is 
over," and Loveday's big eyes looked 
grave and nervous at the prospect of 
anything but a churchyard grave. 
" I do fervently hope that I may have a 
proper hearse and bearers," said the old 
woman solemnly. " Lordy ! Lordy ! it 
do give 'ee grave thoughts upon the 
resurrection, neighbour, when 'ee do think 
of a poor body bein' ground down like 
snuff as that poor man was done by. It 
do fairly make my skin crawl to think o' 
sich a thing ! Lordy ! Lordy ! have 
mercy upon we ! " and her old head went 
from side to side as she thought of her 
stocking stored away between the mattress 
and the tie in the upstairs room. This 
stocking was nearly full of silver coins 
saved from " oddments," as she called the 
gifts given to her by the district visitors, 
and also the pence she occasionally earned 
for sitting to stray artists. Next to the 
ambition to have a grandchild came her 
wish to have a decent burial. She 

53 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

brightened many a weary day with the 
thought of how, thanks to her foresight 
about money matters, she would be 
carried in state to her last resting-place, 
amid the hushed wonder of her neighbours, 
in a hearse with big, black, nodding plumes. 
Kit Trenoweth became half unconscious 
of the gossip of the women ; his eyes 
rested on the well-known line of coast 
which he could plainly see through the 
window from his seat in the chimney 
corner. Since his illness the colour and 
life of the fishing village had been his 
chief amusement ; he could watch the 
herring and mackerel boats come in, and 
as he heard the clang of the bell of the 
seller he knew exactly what chaffing and 
bartering was going on, and guessed by 
the gestures of the men the state of the 
market on the various days when big 
catches were brought in. Just now he 
vaguely heard Nan describing how she 
had put green oil on her lodger's throat, 
how three doctors' "prints" had been 
administered to him at once and all had 
failed to save him, and the voices seemed 
far away, like echoes from a distant hill. 
He was gazing intently at a young sailor 

54 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

on the beach who was throwing up a big 
ball, while grouped round him were the 
lasses and lads of the fishing village alter- 
nately jeering and cheering him. His 
lithe body and quick movements riveted 
the crippled man, whose muscles tightened 
with each successful catch of the ball. 
The sun was setting behind a large black 
rock ; the water rippled and shimmered in 
a blue listlessness as sky and sea mingled 
into one colour. The rough slouching 
figures of the idling fishermen, who leaned 
against the posts and sea-wall smoking and 
chaffing, became transfigured in the golden 
tints of the sunset, while they woke into 
a romantic beauty and freshness the loose- 
throated bronzed and stalwart youngsters 
who had come out to do a bit of courting 
and idling before the night set in. Kit 
watched the colours redden and deepen, 
and was soothed at the scene before him. 
The wavelets crept almost noiselessly on 
the beach and seemed to lilt a love-song 
to him. The village gossip near him grew 
faint, and he felt that the world after all 
was a fresh flower-filled valley where a 
man could rest himself and love his fill. 
The swish-swash of the sea, and the laugh- 

55 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

ing voices of the men and maids, gradually 
drove away his irritable mood, and he 
smiled happily as his eyes rested on the 
setting sun, and noted how the light 
sparkled on the oars of a few fisher boats 
idling in the bay. The brown sails of 
one or two mackerel skiffs gave a sombre 
touch to the blue fairyland before him. 
Suddenly his fingers clutched the stem of 
his pipe ; round by the harbour he had 
tracked the slow, swinging walk of a 
woman, and he leaned back in his chair 
and hummed softly. 



CHAPTER IV 

" HERE ! My blessed life ! Kit ! waken 
up, man ! I've just spied thy woman 
along the quay," said Loveday, sharply. 
Then, in an aside to Mother Trenoweth, 
" And time 'nough, too, I s'ould say ; 
seems to me as we don't knaw all as goes 
on over they weeds. I b'lieve it's maistly 
a passil o' cunning, and that physic ain't 
noane in it at all, naw ! " with a twist of 
the lips and a rough laugh. " I've heered 
a sight o' things I s'udn't care to speak on 
o' Janet's ways wi' strangers, I can tell 
'ee." 

" Darn 'ee ! " interrupted Nan. " L'ave 
the woman be ; divil tak' 'ee, Loveday ! if 
her's wrang, well, her's wrang and her 
fault'll track she sure 'nough. It fair 
turns my blood to cabbage water to always 
hear the unfavourablest side to a woman's 

57 



1 
KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

name. L'ave she be, I say, and don't 
make strife i' another body's house," with 
a side look at Kit, who was quite uncon- 
scious of what they were saying. Mother 
Trenoweth shook her head wearily. 
" Lordy ! Lordy ! I allus feel mysel' as if 
a power o' trouble was a-comin' on this 
house. I do say many and many a time 
that it be poor luck for a man to tak' a 
wife from up-'long strangers who don't 
belong to worship nor yet to live as we 
do hereabouts." Then in a lower tone 
she said to Loveday, after glancing at the 
unconscious face of her son : 
" Hark 'ee, woman ! I do wonder what 
'ee have heerd 'bout Janet ; do 'ee come 
in one day fur a cup o' tea, and while I be 
fittin' o' it up 'ee can tell me all about it, 
fur I do hate Kit's wife to be spoken evil 
o' and no one by to defend she." Her 
cunning old eyes glanced sideways at 
Loveday, who laughed outright. 
" I do b'lieve mysel' as her is nothin' short 
of a whore, and there's more nor one as 
'ull bear that out, sure 'nough. Well, my 
blessed ! how long have 'ee been standing 
there, Mrs Trenoweth ? " as her eyes 
rested on the open door where Janet stood. 

58 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

All three women started guiltily and smiled 
in a constrained way as they looked round 
quickly at Kit, who was wide awake now. 
" I've just come," said Janet. 
She moved into the middle of the kitchen, 
and as she stood between the door and the 
window the last rays of the setting sun lit 
up her strong face and tall figure and 
seemed to throw the other women into 
shadow. Her loose simple gown of blue 
linen, such as is worn by fisher folk, was 
caught at the waist by a twisted band of 
dark red sateen, which threw into relief her 
well-developed breasts and sloping hips. 
The muscles of her arms could be clearly 
traced below the short bodice sleeves, which 
were somewhat shrunken with constant 
washings. She turned her large dark blue 
eyes upon the little group before her and 
smiled easily and pleasantly at the three 
women. 

She was evidently quite unconscious that 
their talk had been about her, and asked 
kindly in her deep voice : 
" And how are you, mother ? And Kit ? " 
and her eyes met her husband's gaze and 
then fell as he smiled at her. 
The two women got up immediately and 
59 



1 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

said good-bye amid the head-shaking of 
the old woman. When the door was shut 
behind Nan and Loveday, whose chatter 
could be heard above the clatter of their 
shoes down the village street, Mother 
Trenoweth hobbled off to her bedroom 
muttering : 

" Lordy ! Lordy ! " adding in an awe- 
struck whisper, "The devil's in it, I 
b'lieve. Janet a oh ! oh ! Loveday 
cain't mean that, sure 'nough, but I'll find 
out, yes, I'll find out, and if the beauty 
should turn out to be only a giddy head 
a'ter all, it's no more nor can be expected 
from up-'long folkses." 
She banged the door of her room and sat 
down in her chair by her bed, put on her 
glasses and, sighing deeply, drew her old 
Bible towards her, and read her usual 
evening chapter. After this was finished, 
a feeling of inward peace and satisfaction 
stole over her, irradiating her old sallow 
face, for she realised now that the Al- 
mighty had indeed laid a mission upon 
her shoulders, the mission of sifting to the 
dregs the unknown nature and ways of 
her daughter-in-law, Janet. She rocked 
herself to and fro and felt the exaltation of 
60 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

a religious fervour stealing over her ; it 
gradually aroused hunger in her, and she 
hoped that husband and wife would soon 
call her to eat some of Janet's " coddles." 
Husband and wife, however, were evi- 
dently in no hurry to summon her, and 
she had plenty of time to digest, not only 
the scriptures, but the village gossip of the 
afternoon. 

When Janet was left alone with Kit she 
had gone quickly over to him and taken 
him up in her arms as if he had been a 
child and laid him on his couch. She 
leaned over him and put her soft warm 
hands on each side of his head as she 
kissed his eyes. 

"Poor old man ! " she murmured. "How 
tired you must be ! Here ! let me shake 
your pillows, so ! " 

He grasped her hands tightly in his and 
then passionately kissed them, laying them 
one over the other. She moved away a 
little nervously as she glanced at his 
feverish eyes, as if she dreaded his next 
movement. Then, almost impulsively, 
she turned back to him again a moment 
afterwards and said : 
" I've brought your oil, Kit." 
61 



1 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

He looked at her, glad of the chance to 
do so. 

" How long will it last this time ? " 
"A week ; and then," stammering, " I'm 
to go for a larger bottle which will last a 
month or so." 

She turned her back to him and raked the 
fire. 

" Had a good time ? " 
"Yes: and you?" 

" I've had those cackling women at my 
elbows, I b'lieve, all the day long," with 
an impatient shrug. " For heaven's sake, 
keep they lot out now. It's time I was 
dead and buried, I'm thinkin', to be left 
alone wi' a passil o' petticoats who mag 
their tongues out and my ears off; don't 
'ee think so ? " 

He looked eagerly at her and saw her 
large brown hands clenched as she looked 
at him. 

" Dunnot say that," she muttered, in her 
low voice, and a quick red glow seemed 
to shiver for a moment over her face. 
He noticed it. 

" You're warm wi' liftin' me, lass. We'd 
better get Sandy Dick to come in at 
night-fall to save 'ee ; don't 'ee think ? " 
62 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

" No ; you munna do that. I like to lift 
you you know that, mon." 
He smiled. 

" I'd give near all the rest of the life left 
to me if 1 could lift thee now, lass ; yes, 
now, this minute, clean and straight i' my 
arms. I'd run wi' thee round the room, 
catch thee close and fast and hard to my 
heart and smother thee close and warm wi' 
all the love in me for thee. I wouldn't 
let 'ee stir no more nor a starling in a trap. 
I'd mak' thy cheeks burn wi' another sort 
o' colour. By God ! Janet ! I'm near 
choked wi' it all ! It's worse nor hunger 
or thirst, woman, that it be, this love I 
have for 'ee." 

She stood before him, trembling, her long, 
brown hands hanging by her sides. Her 
eyes were lowered, and once or twice she 
seemed to be going to speak, but the words 
never came. At last she moved her hands, 
clasping them in front of her, and Kit's 
eyes followed the action. He had often 
wondered why her hands had such power 
over him ; they often thrilled his pulses 
more than her face or her tall lithe body. 
He looked at them now, and a great love- 
storm seemed to shake him. 

63 



1 
KITS WOMAN: A CORNISH IDYLL 

Come." 

He held out his arms. 

She stood still and said brokenly : 

" I want to talk quietly to you, Kit, mon ! 

Summat strange has happened me an it's 

to thee I want to tell it.'' 

He seemed not to hear ; his eyes were 

fixed on her strong, keen face ; he looked 

like a thirsty man who has found a well 

of water after hours of wandering ; he 

laughed at last, a low, happy, cooing laugh. 

" Thou't a beauty, Janet ; it gives me a 

summer's day feelin' to look at 'ee, sure 

'nough. God Almighty chucked away the 

mould, lass, after He'd made thee. I 

reckon He'd grudge throwin' thy sort out 

by the gross." 

He folded his arms across his breast 
and eyed her hungrily. 
" From head to heel there ain't a flaw in 
'ee, not one." 

She blushed hotly, and he laughed again. 
" That's it. That's like the old days when 
I were so hot, and you were so scared ; 
do 'ee mind they days ? Hang it all ! 
You're the only maid as 'ave ever mazed 
me ; do 'ee mind how I used to get so 
crazed over your white flesh that 'ee 
64 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

thought I was not exactly more nor once't ! 
Come ! " 

She came and sat on a low stool near him. 
" Do 'ee mind how one night I was so 
crazed wi' joy and love that I knelt down 
and prayed like a passon ? Do 'ee mind 
how the words came pourin' out thinkin' 
of Him as had made women and made 'em 
so different to we, do 'ee mind ? and how 
at last 'ee pulled me by the sleeve and 
tried to cool me down, for 'ee said I were 
blasphemin' ! " He laughed gaily now. 
" Well ! sweetheart ! I've felt different 
over women folkses ever sin' then ; there's 
a darned lot o' miracle work, strikes me, 
goin' on i' women as perhaps God Hissel' 
scarcely reckoned on when He started 'em." 
He was mechanically twisting and untwist- 
ing the button of her dress bodice. She 
took his hand once as if to hold it in hers, 
but he clasped her hands together and 
went on playing with her gown. 
" I must seem a poor whishe creature to 
'ee now, Janet," he went on ; " it do fret 
me near to maziness, in these June days 
when the sun's so warm and the birds sing. 
I'm no good to 'ee. Damn it all ! 
Nothin' but a bit o' man wreck. Best do 

65 5 



1 
KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

wi' me what government made we do wi' 
the big stranded vessels on th' shore ; 
blow 'em up wi' dynamite to mak' room 
for other things." 

" Thou has been too long alone, lad," she 
muttered, and her eyes wandered to his 
shrunken, crippled legs. " I'll soon set 
thee right again. Thou knows," with a 
quick jerk of her head, " that I shall never 
do aught but love thee." 
She blushed and moved quickly towards 
the hearth and put a saucepan of water on 
the fire for making him a "coddle" before 
he went to bed. As she knelt on the 
hearthstone with one knee bent under her, 
Kit's eyes rested on her bare neck and 
bent head. A soft dark down was trace- 
able below the mark where her hair 
stopped growing, and added to the curves 
of her throat and neck. Just now the 
droop of her head seemed to madden Kit. 
Her absence and his nervous irritability 
after the scene with his mother had told 
upon him. He rose up on his couch, his 
eyes sparkling and his hands twitching. 
" Come here, wench." 
She turned quickly and walked over to 
him with an inquiring look on her face. 
66 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

" Come here ! " he repeated, and he 
glanced towards the door through which 
his mother had gone. 
" Lock that ! let's have five minutes free 
from spies." 

She slowly did his bidding and came back 
with a puzzled look on her face, and then 
knelt down by him and stroked his hand, 
which was twitching nervously. 
Come, Janet ! " 

His voice grew hoarse and passionate. 
" Janet ! " he cried as he pulled her face 
down to him, fiercely gathered her head on 
his breast, and buried his hand beneath the 
hair above her neck. He stroked her 
cheek and ear and then pressed his hand 
once more on the warm neck, as if he 
would never let her go. He breathed 
heavily : 

"I'm a blasted fool, my girl, but I'm 
mazed wi' love of 'ee. Quick ! put thy 
arms tight round me, tight, and tell me," 
and he flung back her head and looked 
into her eyes "tell me, woman, that i' 
spite of old women's mag and my smashed 
limbs you do love me," with his teeth set, 
" love me as a woman loves a man." 
Janet simply looked into his hungry face, 



1 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

gathered him to her, as a woman would a 
child, and said in a low, quiet voice : 
" Thou knows that I love thee. Kit as 
as " she hesitated " as a limb o' my own 
body." 

He lay back calmed for a few moments, 
and then he said wearily : 
It's a chiel. That's it. Devil tak' it all. 
Give me my pipe or I s'all do and say 
more i' a minute nor I can mak' amends 
for in a year." 

She went over to his chair by the fireside, 
got his pipe and took it from its shelf very 
slowly and deliberately. She turned once 
more towards her husband. Her face had 
grown grey and hard, and her firm lips 
quivered slightly. The finely cut nostrils 
were dilated and the dark blue eyes had 
grown larger and brighter. As she met 
the full gaze of Kit's eyes she advanced 
rapidly towards him and threw the pipe on 
the couch by his side. 
" Kit ! " 

His name was uttered with such bitterness 
that he started and looked full at her once 
more. 

" Kit ! dunnot let me hear thee speak o' 

that again. Do you mind what I say ? 

68 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

Never ! There's some things I'd dare the 
angels to talk over to me, and that's one." 
Why ? " he muttered. 
She stared at him, and a look of repulsion 
mingled with the pain in her face. 
" Because," she answered quickly, " be- 
cause it do never do to think o' some 
things, that's why. It's best to throw them 
in the back of your head and forget they're 
there, and there let 'em wait till the day 
when reckonings are made up." 
She turned aside and shrugged her broad 
shoulders. Kit watched her closely as she 
went over to the fire and stirred her 
"coddle." He had lighted his pipe and 
was smoking hard. He watched her put 
the things on the table for their evening 
meal, and he did not attempt to speak to 
her. At last he saw her lean her hands on 
the table and, looking at him again with 
the same worn hard look, she said : 
" I hate a coward, always did, either among 
wenches or lads, and when I do think o' 
that," with a gesture, " I'm a poor, weak 
woman who's not fit to work nor do for 
others." 

The man sighed. 
Janet turned her back on him and took 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

from the fire the boiling pot, washed her 
hands quickly at the sink, and as she wiped 
them she again came over to Trenoweth 
and said to him, in a weary, patient voice : 
" Dunnot think I feel hardly against thee, 
lad," she said gently. " Men's made all 
different to women, I believe ; a woman 
'ud guess my meaning at once. Men's 
more like dogs, I reckon. Very knowing 
and all that, but women's souls more nor 
their bodies wants to breed." 
He looked puzzled, and she laughed as 
she kissed him once more on his eyes. 
" Never mind, old man ; I've been dumpy 
to-day, but I'm tired with the journey and 
seein' " she hesitated " new things. It's 
better to bide to whoam with thee, and 
then I doan't get moithered," she said, 
falling into her native Lancashire tongue. 
" Here ! let me rub your legs and then 
you can have your bit o' supper and be 
comfie again. I be only making things 
worse for you now, and there's lots I want 
to tell you after you're rested." 
She forced herself to be gay, and he gradu- 
ally fell into her mood and calmed down 
into playful tenderness, forgetting his 
doubts and misgivings in the enjoyment of 
70 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

being ministered to by this wife of his who 
had given him new life and strength al- 
ready. His doubts, however, were only 
lulled for the moment, for his last intelli- 
gible thought as he fell asleep that night 
was that women folkses being such "tetchy 
and unbeknown creatures," it would be 
just as well, if the chance came, to see 
what the "passon" had to say about 
many things which addled his poor brains 
so continuously that he could get no peace 
or sleep for the thoughts which came to 
him. 



CHAPTER V 

As if fate willed it, Parson Trownson 
called during the following week at Kit 
Trenoweth's house. Janet occasionally 
attended his church, and as he had a 
village children's treat coming on, he 
dropped in, on his way to a sick 
parishioner, to ask Mrs Trenoweth to 
help him with one of the tea-tables. Kit 
not being a churchman, he had seen little 
of him at any time, and when he entered 
the kitchen, as no answer came to his 
knock, he was surprised to find Kit alone 
and helpless, as he had never realised 
from Janet's brief accounts of her hus- 
band's health that he was a cripple. He 
advanced towards the fireplace and said in 
a cheery voice as he removed his hat, in 
the sprightly tone the healthy so often 
use to the sick : 

72 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

"Well, my good fellow, and how are 
you ? " He extended his hand with a 
smile which combined the patronage of 
the gentry with the professional sympathy 
of the cleric. Kit shook it heartily and 
said curtly : 

"I'm glad to see 'ee, Mr Trownson. 
I've long been wantin' fur to see 'ee, for 
I souldn't be frightened but what 'ee 
could help me out of a bit of a puzzle I'm 
bothering my head wi' most all my time." 
"Yes, yes; just so!" said the friendly 
parson, separating the tails of his long 
coat as he glanced hastily at the wooden 
chair near him and seated himself on it. 
"Certainly, certainly. Are you in any 
spiritual difficulty, my good fellow ? " 
He coughed, bit his under lip with a 
slight smile on his face, and folded his 
arms in a resigned manner. He was so 
accustomed to the commonplace travailings 
of these simple souls, who wanted points 
of doctrine settled for them, in the same 
decisive way as their doctor's nostrums 
were handed over and bolted. He felt he 
could have closed his eyes and mumbled 
out the very words this simple miner 
would say. He was kind-hearted and 
73 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

felt for fisher-folk as he felt for his dogs 
or his horses when he was obliged to 
deprive them of liberty or to punish them. 
He tilted back his chair and crossed one 
leg over the other as he looked com- 
placently at Trenoweth, with the smile 
growing in his eyes as he waited for him 
to speak. He almost lost his balance and 
fell from his seat when, instead of the 
usual commonplace query regarding heaven 
or hell, Trenoweth asked him in a stolid, 
slow way : 

" Have 'ee ever had a wife, sir ? " 
" What, in heaven's name," he said to him- 
self, " is the blundering idiot driving at ? 
Is he mad or bad or only curious ? " His 
face paled, and a nervous little laugh 
rippled away the merriment from his eyes 
and mouth. What had the fellow heard ? 
What could be his object in cornering 
him suddenly in this way ? He glanced 
quickly at him, and then dropped his eyes. 
" My good fellow, what do you mean ? " 
he asked sharply and quickly. 
" Have 'ee ever had a woman, sir ? " 
repeated Kit stolidly. 
Parson Trownson was puzzled. He 
objected to telling lies except under very 
74 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

special conditions, conditions which came 
rarely into his uneventful life. He must 
either tell Trenoweth a lie or run the risk 
of unearthing his past, from which he had 
escaped when he came to this quiet fishing 
village, for the ridicule or pity of these 
people, whom he looked upon as mere 
children who could not be trusted with 
the sorrows of the educated, any more 
than boys or girls in an infant school. 
His perplexity increased as Kit's eyes 
travelled over his well-tailored person and 
finally rested full on his face. 
" I s'ud not ask 'ee, sir, for pastime or 
foolishness, but if 'ee's had no dealings wi' 
a woman 'ee cain't help me nohow as I 
can see, for what I'm botherin' over isn't 
put anywhere i' the Bible, nor yet preached 
on i' the pulpits leastways not i' my 
hearing of the Word. Fornication and 
adultery" the vicar stared blankly at 
Trenoweth " and suchlike things is dealt 
wi' here and there i' the Bible, sure 'nough, 
but there's a sight o' things, seems to me, 
beggin' o' your pardin, o' course, sir," 
with an apologetic jerk of his head towards 
Mr Trownson, "that do fairly maze we 
unlearned folkses that ain't dealt wi' 

75 



1 
KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

neither i' the Book or i the churches or 
chapels. It's a parcil o' trouble try in* to 
ferret out the Almighty's will i' some 
things when there's no chart nor pilot to 
guide 'ee over a difficult line. Don't 'ee 
think so, sir ? " 

Trenoweth's shrewd eyes sought Parson 
Trownson's face as if he would read his 
answer there. The parson coughed slightly 
and said : 

" It is easy, my dear friend, to guide one's 
life in the path of duty if we are deter- 
mined not to place our inclinations in the 
face of the will of the Almighty." 
"Yes, sir," answered Kit, slowly, and he 
put his hands in his trousers' pockets and 
looked down at his feet as they hung 
loosely above the ground. " I do knaw 
that, sure 'nough, but what I'm wantin' 
to find out is what is the will o' the 
Almighty. Is it the will o' the Lord 
that us should go right agin nature and 
throttle a parcil o' longings that God 
HisseF or the devil thrawed into we ? 
It's just that as I'm tryin' to find out, 
whether some strifin's and pushin's in we 
as sends us on whether we like it or 
no, comes from on high or from down 
76 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

there, sir," pointing with his finger to the 
kitchen floor. 

In all Parson Trownson's experience he 
had never before been confronted with so 
direct a question. He was bewildered 
and could have given a rapid assent to 
Trenoweth's next remark, which was also 
a question. 

"Anyways it's a puzzle whichever way 
you look at it, seems to me ? " 
In order to gain time the clergyman deter- 
mined to question Trenoweth further and 
see if by any chance he could use stratagem 
in fighting the Lord's battle. 
" I don't quite understand you, my good 
fellow," he answered. "Just put your 
difficulties before me quite frankly, and 
my advice is at your service. You see," 
he added with a smile, " there are many 
matters a little outside a clergyman's pro- 
vince, but, of course, I will do anything I 
can to help you." He crossed one leg 
over the other, nursed his right knee with 
both hands clasped round it, showing, as 
he did so, the large signet ring on the 
little finger of his small right hand. 
Mechanically, Kit's eyes fell on the glitter- 
ing object as he said nervously : 

77 



KITS WOMAN: A CORNISH IDYLL 

" Well, sir ; look at my legs ! " 

Trownson glanced quickly at the thin 

crippled limbs of the man before him and 

said kindly and simply : 

" I'm so sorry, my poor fellow ; it must 

be a terrible trial for you." 

" It ain't that, sir ; it's this way," went on 

Kit, in a sharper voice : " I've a fine 

bouncin' woman o' my own ; you do knaw 

she, I b'lieve ; how the devil is the Lord's 

will fur she to be fitted in wi' a maimed 

man as ain't no husband to she at all, 

and " with a growl " never can be no 

more ? " 

He hung his head, resenting in his heart 

that something within him forced him to 

tell a stranger his trouble. 

Trownson at once became interested, and 

the man in him, which was not by any 

means drowned in the mere cleric, felt 

great sympathy for Trenoweth. He began 

to understand his drift, but all he said 

was : 

" It's hard luck, Trenoweth." 

" It's this way, sir," muttered Kit, sharply, 

" her do belong to love me right 'nough, 

but her's whishe cause her ain't got no 

chiel that's the mischief wi' all women as 

78 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

is worth their salt, the longing to breed, 
and it's just rubbish to say as it can be 
stopped, 'cause my legs fails me ; it cain't 
no more nor a half-moon can stop makin' 
hersel' a full one when her time comes." 
Trenoweth shuffled restlessly in his chair, 
and tossed the hair back from his forehead 
as he went on : 

" You see, sir, I do knaw a thing or two 
'bout both bitches and women folkses ; 
they're unlike and yet like i' some things, 
but my woman ain't quite the general mak' 
o' maids ; her's a puzzler, I can tell 'ee, and 
'twixt me and you I b'lieve her's a bit of 
a riddle to hersel'. I tell 'ee what," and 
he lowered his voice, "I reckons that i' 
this spring weather her do feel a want 
that's natural and right ; do 'ee mind my 
meanin', sir ? and I'm fair befoolt over 
it, for in a manner of speakin' I'm no more 
use to she i' this job nor a eunuch, and 
that's plain speakin' ! " 
He breathed heavily and the sweat stood 
on his forehead. 

"There's no speakin' of these things i' 
the chapels, do 'ee understand, and it's 
they things as I do want to hear on more 
nor 'bout heaven just now." 

79 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

He spat into the fire and cleared his throat. 
" I do worship that woman o' mine, sir, 
sin or no sin, there it be ! Yes, worship 
she, I tell 'ee. The very sweat o' she be 
a lot sweeter to me than the scent o' the 
sea or the first flowers o' the year, sure 
'nough ! I cain't help it no ways ! the 
very touch of her flesh is a bit of heaven 
to me ; it's true, sir, if I have to go to 
hell for the idolatry as we're warned agin. 
I don't care a bit 'bout what I've to lose 
over this breedin' job, but I do care 'bout 
she and what her suffers. Her ain't 
happy ; a natural fool can see that any day, 
and what do 'ee think can be done fur to 
help she, sir ? " 

"Absolutely nothing, my good man, 
nothing," answered Parson Trownson, 
emphatically. " To speak quite frankly 
between you and me," and he glanced 
round the kitchen to assure himself that 
they were alone, " I think you've alto- 
gether exaggerated the situation." He 
waved his hand in the air as one ac- 
customed to disperse doubts and lawless- 
ness at a word. " It is probably because 
you spend so much time cooped up in 
the house." He drew his chair closer to 
80 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

Kit and said emphatically in a lowered 
voice : 

" These matters are very delicate ; in fact 
they scarcely bear talking over under any 
circumstance. In your case, my good 
friend," he looked quickly at Trenoweth, 
"the matter is exceptionally painful, but 
as a matter of fact there is absolutely 
nothing to be done. I can, however, 
console you thus far by assuring you that 
women's natures are quite different from 
ours ; indeed it is a kind of profanity to 
think it could be otherwise. The chief 
object of man's chivalrous care of woman 
lies in the fact that he feels this and in 
his guardianship of her acknowledges her 
spiritual superiority to himself. A woman 
craves to have a child ; quite so, quite so," 
with a condescending wave of the ringed 
hand, " it is a wonderful dispensation of 
Providence that your wife, whom I know 
to be an admirable woman, should have 
this wish it is one of the most glorious 
designs of God, the desire to suckle 
children, but" he coughed once more 
and a slight smile made his lips twitch 
"but, my good man, you don't suppose 
for one moment that women have passions 
81 6 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

like ours, that they are radically lawless 
and savage or even temperately animal, 
as men are, do you ? " 
" Yes, by God ! " snorted Kit, triumph- 
antly, "when a woman's sucklin' a chiel 
at her breast I b'lieve her do like the 
feelin' right 'nough, sir. I've seen women 
fit to bite the baaby wi' joy over that job, 
like maids bite their sweethearts sometimes 
when they love 'em most." He snorted 
and laughed fiercely. " I've never had no 
dealin's wi' sprites nor yet wi' angels i' 
my coortin' jobs, I can tell 'ee. There's 
summat behind the beast in a woman, I 
reckon, as makes she such a powerful 
riddle to we men folkses, but if it's the 
beast as you're scornin' i' men, I'm thinkin' 
you'd have to use the same birch to get 
that out o j the women folkses as well as 
out o' we." 

Trownson positively blushed, and thought 
to himself that, after all, the common 
people were moulded in totally different 
ways from the well-born. He simply put 
down Kit's statement as the summing up 
of a village rake, and the man became 
lowered in his eyes. 

" Has your wife ever expressed any 
82 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

ahem ! dissatisfaction with her present 
life ? " he queried with a touch of con- 
tempt in his well-bred voice. 
Kit laughed brutally. 
" What do 'ee tak' me fur, sir ? Do 'ee 
think as I s'ud be tellin' 'ee these fears o' 
mine if her mouthed like a ninney to me ? 
No ! she bean't no blabber, I can tell 'ee, 
but I do see things ain't right, that's all, 
and there's summat working 'i me as I'm 
not learned enough to understand nor yet 
to deal wi'; that's all, and that's why I've 
coomed to you, 'cause they tell me that 
college gents knaws a power o' things as 
we folkses as works hard don't knaw 
nothin* about." 

"This is scarcely a matter to do with 
colleges, Mr Trenoweth," the parson 
replied ; " it really is a very simple affair 
if you will only look at it in the right 

light.- 

He lifted his left hand and forced back 
the thumb with the forefinger of his right, 
as if to jot off conveniently the several 
methods by which the world, the flesh, and 
the devil could be brought into complete 
subjection. He folded his arms together 
again after a moment's reflection and 

83 



I 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

slightly raised his shoulders as he 
continued : 

"You imagine your wife is restless, and 
your mind is a little overstrained with your 
physical trouble. Talk to her frankly ; that 
is, as frankly as one can to a woman, and 
she will doubtless soon prove to you that 
your fears are groundless. A true woman 
finds her only happiness in her husband's 
welfare, and Mrs Trenoweth is surely an 
exemplary character in this respect." 
"You don't understand, sir. I must be 
forthright wi' 'ee, I can see. Janet, my 
woman, be no giddy spark of a jade, nor 
yet a bluidless fule, I can tell 'ee. Her 
seems to have taken some o' the beastly 
lustful devil out o' me, and put some of 
her own breed in ; it's her nature more 
nor my own as is workin' in me now, I 
reckon ; it's like yeast movin' in me, the 
wish to see she well and happy again as 
her do belong to be." He beat the sides 
of his chair with the bowl of his pipe as if 
he were impatient. " I'm wonderin', sir, 
whether her oughtn't to have another man, 
one as 'ud be a strong sweetheart to she 
and not a putty man like I be. What do 
'ee think ? " 

84 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

Trownson became very grave, and his lower 
lip hung loosely. 

" Are you so unhappy as this, Trenoweth ! " 
he said at last, changing his tone to one 
of almost equality. "Is that your only 
remedy ? Do you seriously meditate 
allowing your wife to proceed to such 
lengths as that ? No womanly woman 
could do it no ! no ! no ! " with a shrill 
tone in his voice and a glitter in his eyes ; 
"it is only women who have forgotten 
God and duty who do such things. I 
thought Mrs Trenoweth understood the 
eternal sanctity of the marriage bond better 
than that." 
Trenoweth laughed. 

" We ain't married, don't 'ee see, sir ? 
Not no more, in a manner of speaking, 
than if I was a corpse." 
" Ahem ! " coughed the bewildered parson 
"don't you see, my good man, that 
marriage is a divine ordinance ? It is not 
a mere animal relationship, a mere dog 
and bitch partnership." He looked 
askance at Trenoweth, thinking his analogy 
a little too strong for the occasion. " It is 
a communion of souls, a twining together 
of subtler needs than can be expressed ; a 

85 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

union not only for time but for all eternity. 
To profane this is to risk eternal punish- 
ment ; not, of course, in the ordinary 
hell-fire sense," with a smile, "but the 
punishment which comes to all those who 
break great spiritual or moral laws. If 
your wife violates your union for a mere 
physical whim, she dishonours not only 
you, her husband, but all womanhood, by 
the unchaste desires to which she falls a 
prey." 

Trenoweth had begun to smoke. 
" Seems to me, sir, beggin' your pardin of 
course, as you think a damned lot o' the 
dog and bitch part o' the business, a'ter 
all. If my woman lived wi' another man 
as she could love i' that way, and he her, 
there's no call as I can see for she to hate 
me nor yet to thraw me on one side like a 
worn-out sack. Seems to me as if her 
could do that her'd have got pretty well 
rid of all they grand spiritual feelin's as 
you seems to set such store by. It all 
sounds so fine, and all that, the way as you 
puts it, sir, but I cain't help readin' of it 
all backwards someway. I'll gie 'ee the 
straight tip. I ain't no husband to she ; 
that's sure ; the question I want fur you to 
86 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

answer fur me is, am I to tie she fur the 
rest of her natural life to my whishe legs 
same as women folkses is said to tie chiels 
to their apron strings ? Now speak 
straight and fair, sir, as man to man ; do 
'ee think it's in the natural way o' things 
that her '11 go on lovin' me if I do ? I 
think of it all till I'm scared lest her '11 long 
for heaven jist to get free a bit to pick up 
wi' a different mak' o' chap, and then, what 
the devil 'ull be the good o' all this holdin' 
of her in ? " 

He smoked fiercely, and sent grey rings 
chasing one another into the ceiling. He 
watched them for a moment and went on 
without taking his eyes from his pipe. 
" You may whistle to love, seems to me, 
and hoot to she too, till you're black i' the 
face, and done i' the lungs, but her's a 
wayward minx, her be ; her'll come if her 
wants, and her'll go if her wants, and 
neither passons nor yet lawyers, so it 
seems to me, cain't put no salt on her tail, 
wi' all their fine talk and braggin'. It's 
my opinion as there's a lot o' trash talked 
over these things by they folkses who'se 
never had their heart-strings tugged." 
Kit spat impatiently on the floor and 

8? 



1 
KITS WOMAN: A CORNISH IDYLL 

sighed. He went on slowly, as no answer 
came from the bewildered cleric. 
"It's that sort o' lesson a feller learns 
when he graws to love a woman better nor 
hissel', and I'm fast comin' to think as 
books cain't tell 'ee much about it. I've 
thought over a sight o' things settin' here, 
sir," and he pointed to the bench near 
him as he rested his elbow on the arm of 
his chair. "There's somethin' i' my 
woman's flesh as not only crazes the man 
'i me, sir, but gies me a power o' new 
insight altogether. It's the dog i' me, as 
you spoke on jist now, would kennel she 
for my own uses ; I often feel as if I 
could snatch she and tear she i' bits, in a 
manner o' speakin', like a wolf rends a 
man, but there's somethin' new got hold 
o' me lately ; I guess it's the man and not 
the dog, sir, and it's made me think o' 
things more." 

He went on dreamily, as if talking to 
himself. 

" If her heart and body turns to another 
chap, let she go to 'en and have it fair and 
square a'tween us, that's what I do say, 
but I'm befoolt o'er the job at times, and 
wonder if I mean rightly what I do say, 
88 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

and if I s'ouldn't be the fust to whistle 
she back." 

" My good man," interrupted Trownson, 
"you're talking simple balderdash, if 
you'll excuse my directness ; there is no 
law, human or divine, which could counte- 
nance such an absurd solution of your 
difficulty. It is highflown and morbid to 
an almost insane degree. Do you seriously 
mean to imply that you have some idea 
of letting your wife ahem ! live with 
another man while keeping up a semblance 
of a relationship with you ? " 
He pushed the air vigorously with both 
hands, as if to turn back into the Inferno 
such mad, bad ideas. He was interested 
in Trenoweth in spite of his erratic and 
what he considered dangerous views, but 
he was rapidly coming to the conclusion 
that the man was nearing the verge of 
insanity, and he made up his mind to give 
a hint to some responsible person to note 
the case for fear of evil consequences 
coming to the young wife. 
Trenoweth spoke with an effort. 
" If you loved a woman, sir, loved she a 
good length beyond your own soul, and 
then you lost she, my meanin' is, lost she 
89 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

i' the way as she couldn't be your wife, 
would it make you hate she, sir ? " 
The parson merely coughed, and smiled 
faintly. Trenoweth continued in a stolid 
way : 

" If, I say, straight and square, mind you, 
to my woman : Look you here, wench ! 
If you do belong to care anyway for some 
chap and want 'en, tak' 'en, but let's have 
it square and high and dry above board 
and no shammin' it's the shammin' I 
couldn't abide is that ridiculous ? Well ! 
that's but my meanin', sir. If," he 
pointed a long thin finger at Trownson ; 
" mind you, I say, if my woman s'ud want 
a husband as well as a mate like me, I 
don't see, if 'ee looks at it fair and square, 
why the devil her s'udn't have 'en, and not 
only that, why s'ud her be asked to leave 
me out 'cause of it ? Ain't no folkses 
chums at all when they cain't do the 
honeymoon business any more ? Ain't 
none o' they big folkses as can go into 
court and get unwed never friends no 
more ? " 

" I should assuredly say not," sternly 
replied Mr Trownson. 
" Then, sir, beggin' o' your pardin, there's 
90 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

summat wrang i' the way the things is 
fixed up i 7 the marriage laws down here, 
and I do fervently trust that up-'long," 
pointing to the ceiling, " there'll be a new 
line o' conduct over sich things. Yer 
don't seem to see, sir, as Janet'll allus 
love me, and her could no more leave me 
out i' the cold like a pauper wi'out love 
to warm me than if I'd come right out of 
her body." 

"I suppose you understand that what you 
are suggesting is an abomination, not only 
in the eyes of God, but in the eyes of all 
good men ? " 

" Abomination," stammered Trenoweth ; 
" to love your woman better nor yoursel' 
do you mean that ? " 
The parson waved his hand. 
" That is begging the question ; it is not 
loving a woman better than yourself, but 
simply opening the door to lustful desires 
and weak sentimentalities. If such pre- 
posterous actions were countenanced by 
law, what on earth do you think would 
become of the family the foundation of 
our Nation's happiness and prosperity ? " 
" We ain't got no family, sir ; that's the 
touchy bit in it all, don't 'ee see ? " 

9 1 



1 

KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

" Yes, yes ! " testily answered the cleric, 
"but laws are made for the many, and 
these courses of conduct that you suggest 
will assuredly undermine all family purity 
and domestic peace. Indeed ! such ideas 
can only be the outcome of evil thoughts 
and lascivious desires." 
" Then, sir," answered Trenoweth sharply, 
"all I can say is I'm hanged if the 
wicked uns ain't got a tip or two from up 
atop that the big wigs knaws naught about. 
Do 'ee mean to say straight and fair to me, 
sir, that it's wrang to love a woman so that 
you could hand her over to a bit o' joy 
that you ain't in, in a way of speakin', 
savin' the living from the dead, so to 
speak, and rejoicin' at the pairin' you've 
set 'eesel' to see through ? Do 'ee belong 
to tell me as it's sin in she to go to a 
second man unless first of all she do hate 
the first ? That the only way for she to 
do over this job is to lie inside and out, 
both to me and to hersel', 'cause her cain't 
crush feelin's as the Lord HisseF blesses, 
we're told, if only the passon, beggin' your 
pardin again, bosses the show ? If 'ee can 
say as I'm wrong to feel like this o'er the 
job well, I'm sorry I coomed to 'ee for 
92 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

help, for, in a manner o' speaking I feel 
now almost as if love have teached me 
'bout as much, and likely more, nor the 
school and the Bible together seems to 
have teached you." 

Trownson was about to answer Kit in an 
authoritative manner, as he was nettled at 
the change of tone in this miner. In the 
beginning of the interview he had noticed 
the deferential manner of Kit towards his 
superior, and he resented as an insult the 
straight speaking and calm smoking of this 
lover and husband who dared to teach him 
as if he were a schoolboy. The argument 
would probably have ended in a storm of 
abuse on Kit's side, and of sharp satirical 
expostulations on Trownson's side, but 
before the parson could open his mouth to 
defend himself from Kit's last attack a 
noise made both the men turn their heads 
sharply towards the door. Janet had just 
lifted the latch, and she stood in the en- 
trance, a little bewildered at seeing a visitor 
with her husband. She advanced towards 
Trownson, and half curtsied, a habit caught 
in her childish days, when at village treats 
and Sunday school excursions in the North 
the little ones had stood in great awe of 

93 



I 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

the local clergyman. She greeted Trownson 
simply and stood near her husband. The 
cleric looked at her sharply, almost savagely, 
as he would have looked at Eve after con- 
versing with poor Adam over the apple- 
stalk in his hand. When Parson Trownson 
preached on Sundays upon Womanhood, 
he felt himself kindled by a divine fervour ; 
the vision which always came to him was 
of the pure unsullied virgin, the mother of 
little ones, the comforter and helpmate of 
man, the refiner of the world, the silent 
spiritual influence at work by the hearths of 
any nation calling itself righteous, chasten- 
ing by her mystic power the baser and 
grosser side of humanity and freeing it 
from its animal lusts and stupid gluttonies. 
His ideal of Woman carried him often 
beyond himself, and he rose on tip-toe 
perspiring with the effort of his own 
eloquence. But this view of woman which 
Trenoweth had presented to him, a view 
sordid and gross, this gave him a feeling 
of physical nausea as he looked at Janet. 
Woman personified in this man's wife, not 
only as a breeder, but as a conceiver, not 
as one who submits meekly and of necessity 
to the sacred work and pains of mother- 
94 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

hood, but as one who craves and demands 
the lawless play of physical enjoyment ! 
Bah ! His spine began to creep at the 
vulgarity of Trenoweth's description and 
the rank materialism which his words had 
implied. He turned curiously and looked 
at Janet as she faced her husband to tell 
him where she had been. He noted her 
length of limb and her rounded bust, the 
swing of her hips as she moved Trenoweth 
higher and put his cushions closer to his 
back. He began to think he was the 
victim of some horrible suggestion, for 
he felt a strange magnetic attraction as he 
gazed at the woman before him. 
Janet turned quickly from her husband, 
and her blue cotton skirt swung in a 
graceful curve, exposing her well-shaped 
ankle and foot. The vicar got up, looked 
hastily at his watch and extended his hand 
to Trenoweth, saying in a hurried voice : 
" A little cooling draught at this time of 
the year would be very useful to you, my 

good fellow ; try it ; magnesia or " 

He stopped abruptly, smiled in a con- 
strained way as he turned to Janet : 
"Good-bye, Mrs Trenoweth. Ah! I 
leave your husband in the best of hands ; 

95 



1 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

he is feverish feverish and over-excited, 

and you will doubtless calm him/' Janet 

raised her dark eyes and looked at 

Tr own son gravely. 

" Thank you kindly, sir," she said simply, 

and held out her hand. The vicar clasped 

it, and when he was in the street he 

mechanically put the hand she had held 

inside his clerical vest, then he hastily 

withdrew it, looked at it in a bewildered 

kind of way, and muttered : 

"The deuce!" 

As he put his latchkey in the door of his 

house he muttered stupidly : 

" Got the text anyway next Sunday 

eh ? yes of course lusts of the flesh." 



CHAPTER VI 

IN a big hollow on Bos Kiwen sandhills a 
man lay dreaming ; the hot July sun, 
streaming in full noonday force, had sent 
him to this retreat among the miniature 
flowers and coarse grasses which grew in 
the hollows made by the winter gales. 
He had shaped the sand at his back into 
an easy seat ; his legs were raised and 
crossed, one hand was thrown behind his 
head, and his deep grey eyes were gazing 
vacantly but restfully out to sea. He 
was puffing contentedly from a briarwood 
pipe, and now and then he looked at his 
watch, seated himself in an easier position 
and half dozed as the sun here and there 
caught him unawares in his shaded nook. 
He was a ship's mate, " off deck " in more 
ways than one, for he was lounging in a 
summer's mood, and feeling in his soul at 

97 7 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

the moment that to be pinned to a post 
was the one evil in the world, to be free 
and at ease the supreme blessing. Nancy 
Nanquitho was his nearest relation, and 
he had several times almost mechanically 
dropped down upon the bit of ground 
which held his own blood. He rented a 
room in the village, when he came at rare 
intervals, and as she asked him no 
questions he rarely vouchsafed any in- 
formation about his life. He came and 
went, as his mood and circumstances 
allowed, and Widow Nanquitho gave him 
on coming a welcome, and on going her 
blessing that was all. To-day he had 
slowly sauntered towards the sandhills 
after a dinner at the village inn, which was 
calculated to make a man drowse, smoke, 
and dream that all was surely well on land 
and sea. His sunburnt face was honest 
and virile ; one forgot to ask if it were 
handsome ; its strength and cheerfulness 
banished the query. Sea-salt and tobacco 
brought an air of vigour and repose at the 
same time to those who talked to him. 
Just now his pipe drew well, he had had 
his dinner, the sun shone, he could hear 
the sea rippling in on the sands wooingly 



KITS WOMAN: A CORNISH IDYLL 

and slowly, as if it were too full of a noon- 
day content to hurry itself even to kiss the 
ground. He threw open his coat and let 
the soft winds play upon him, and he 
smiled happily, for he was waiting, without 
any feverish excitement apparently, for a 
woman. He looked at his watch again. 
She was late. He closed his eyes and 
languidly drew at his pipe ; he knew she 
would come, and a soft light spread over 
his face as he thought of her. Women 
were all alike, he mused, all clinging and 
faithful and sometimes bores with it, too, 
or he pulled his moustache at one corner 
with his under lip and bit it meditatively 
shrewish hell-cats who made a man's home 
too hot for him to live in. Then he 
drowsily pulled at his pipe and reviewed 
his experiences ; he gave slight chuckles 
as he recalled one or two of his youthful 
escapades. Women had ceased to torment 
him, for he had faced his own nature and 
its needs several years ago, and also had 
realised, so he imagined, the limitations of 
women. He had invariably found them 
easy to capture ; he had, until now, felt 
little need for a permanent relationship 
with any of them ; that, he knew well 
99 



I 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

enough, was a perilous venture which 
might turn a life keel upwards in no time. 
He had thought at first that the woman 
for whom he was waiting would never 
belong to him, but it had come, suddenly 
but surely ; she was his at last, and he lay 
back in the repose of security and waited. 
He was in love, he said to himself, more 
so he believed than ever before, the sun 
shone and all was ready ; what more could 
mortal man desire to make him happy ? 
Love and the hot day were evidently too 
much for him. At last he slept, the deep 
dreamless sleep which comes in the open 
air when nothing pinches or maims the 
brain and nerves. His pipe went out and 
lay in his outstretched hand, which was 
being rapidly investigated by ants and sand 
insects. His legs remained raised and 
crossed, and one hand lay idly behind his 
head. The mouth, half open, revealed the 
strong white teeth of a healthy man in his 
prime. 

The woman for whom he waited stood 
by him and watched him watched him 
with contracted mouth and heavy eyes. 
She had come to the old haunt ; she was 
ten minutes late and he was asleep. Her 
IOO 



KITS WOMAN : A CQKNIgHj JDYLL: 

eyes wandered over his body ; the big 
chest rose and fell with his deep, regular 
breathing. The woman shivered and then 
sighed. Her large nostrils moved rapidly. 
His dark blue shirt was open at the throat, 
and the thick hair on his chest was moist 
with the summer's heat. The woman 
stood quite still as she watched the sleeper ; 
he sighed in his sleep. She moved back- 
wards and her face paled a little. She 
took off her large sun hat and threw it on 
the ground ; the man started and their 
eyes met. 
"Janet!" 

He sprang up, threw down his pipe and 
folded his strong arms around her. She 
made no movement, and he drew her face 
up to his with a quick jerk of his hand 
and kissed her passionately on the eyes 
and mouth. 

" There ! " he said, and sighed happily ; 
" there ! that's good ! so ! Now another, 
my sweetheart ! " and his eyes shone with 

food-humoured passion, 
he put her ringed hand on his open 
breast and pushed him back. He laughed 
and caught her closer to him in his lover's 
mood, for he knew that she was being 
TOI 



KITS -WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

coy with him, as is the way with women. 
He glanced at her face and whispered : 
" My own girl ! so you're here at last ! 
How I've waited, you loiterer ! Come ! 
let's be happy now ! " 
" Dunnot ! " she said in a thick slow way, 
and she pushed him back again. " Dun- 
not, I say ! " 

Still believing that it was a mere woman's 
trick to intensify his ardour, he smiled. 
" What's the row, Janet ? Has the new 
moon turned you fickle ? " and he advanced 
towards her again. 

" Dunnot," repeated Janet. " I've done 
what you said to me ; I've not told the 
mon ! " 
He laughed. 

" Of course not, my sweet ! it would be 
crazy ! " 

" I meant to," she went on, " when I went 
whoam that neet, but he was strange and 
moithered bein' by hissel', and I couldn't 
get it out." 

Her hand was lowered and she added in 
her deep sad voice : 

" Somehow it all looked so different when 

I got near him ; not" hesitating and 

looking round at the sandhills and then 

1 02 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

out to sea " not like here i' the sun, and 

I were shamed, too shamed to think of it 

even." 

He glanced at her quickly. 

"What the devil do you mean, Janet ?" he 

asked, testily. 

"You know what happened," she said, 

slowly, as if the words were dragged out 

of her, " here, last week, you know what 

coomed to us. I was mazed, I'm thinking, 

mazed wi' the sun and and " she 

stammered "summat as I can't make 

out now coomed over me. I'm thinking," 

and she looked at him with glassy eyes, 

" I'm thinking, mon, as I'm about hatin' 

you and mysel' too to-day. What be I to 

do? Eh? Tell me?" 

The sentence ended in a sort of wail, and 

she raised her hand to her eyes, as if to 

shut out the sunlight. 

Her lover began to think she was either 

ill or serious. He drew her gently down 

on the sand beside him, and she sank into 

the place he had made for her. He seized 

her hand and pressed it between both of 

his her long strong hand which was 

unlike that of any other woman he had 

known. 

103 



1 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

" Janet 1" he said tenderly, " be reason- 
able, dear ! What's up ? You're tired 
a bit, I see. I know you said some 
nonsense last week about telling your 
husband of our love affair, but you couldn't 
have been serious. I knew that right 
enough, and made you promise not to 
tell him till I saw you again, just 
to make your mind easy. My sweet 
old darling ! it would be the maddest 
thing going to do that ! " He whistled. 
" By heaven ! there'd be ructions then 
and no mistake. He'll never be a pin 
the wiser, and it's not as if I really 
took you away from him, you know 
and and it might be confoundedly bad 
for him and upset him just now, don't 
you think ?" 

" It's the lies," she said simply. 
" What lies ?" he asked. 
"Lies! lies! it's all lies," she went on, 
wearily, " nothin' but lies ! " 
"Nonsense, Janet," a little impatiently 
" you're like all women, dear, overstrung 
and all that. You don't think men tell 
their wives their little love affairs, do 
you ? " He laughed and half closed his 
eyes. " Not they, indeed ! there'd be 
104 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

pretty scenes if they did, I can tell you. 
Then why should you tell him ? " 
" I hate lies," said Janet. 
He smiled. 

" My dear ! it's too late now ; we may 
have done wrong, probably have ; we may 
have done right don't believe we've quite 
done that but anyway it's done, that's 
certain " he looked at her meaningly 
" and the best thing now is for us both 
to hold our tongues. You particularly if 
you've any sense or nice feeling for that 
poor devil of a husband of yours." 
He picked a sand thistle and rubbed off 
with his thick forefinger the grey and 
purple bloom on its leaves, as delicate as 
the bloom on the grape. It pricked him, 
and he flicked it with finger and thumb 
over the ridge of sand at his feet. She 
watched him wearily, and he went on : 
"Your husband would simply raise the 
roof off the house in a jealous man's 
tantrums, and what good would that do 
any of us ? You can't help loving me," 
he smiled at her " I could not for the 
life of me have helped loving you ; here 
we were ; in fact, here we are ; the thing's 
in a nutshell and we've got to make the 
105 



1 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

best of it. Let's shut up this parson's 

drivel. Don't spoil a lovely day with old 

woman's rot, for I've just hungered to 

get you close and fast in my arms again. 

Come ! " 

The words startled her. She looked 

round in terror, and her hands shook so 

much that she clasped them tightly behind 

her back. 

" No ! " she said huskily " never no 

more never ! " 

" Nonsense," he said, suddenly wakening 

to the fact that he was losing her. " Don't 

you love me, Janet ? " 

She turned her beautiful eyes full on him 

and laughed in a stupid way. 

" I dunnot know ; I've never axed mysel' 

that." 

"What!" he retorted. "Is your body 

nothing to you that you give it for play 

on a summer's day ? " 

He spoke bitterly. She flinched visibly, 

and he saw the anguish creeping all over 

her face, and making it grey. 

" I dunnot know." 

Whew ! " he whistled. " If I 

thought " 

He stopped, for he had caught a strange 
106 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

expression in her face as she looked at 
him. He put his hands in his pockets 
and looked on the ground. 
"You've duped me, Janet," he went on 

emphatically ; " you've " 

She stopped him and said roughly : 
"And what do you think I've done to 
yon mon, then ? " 

He waived aside the question with a 
lover's impatience. 

" Do you hear, Janet ? You're a flirt ! 
that's certain, if you mean what you said 
just now. You've given yourself for an 
hour like a " he hesitated as he saw her 
eyes glitter "well, like other women 
do, and then you leave me" his voice 
broke " leave me without a decent word 
to pull up a fellow's faith in women again." 
He covered his face with his hands and 
the veins had risen like cords in his thick 
neck, and she pitied him. 
" Forgive me," she said simply ; " it's been 
all wrong, and I'm the worst, as you say." 
He sprang towards her and put his arm 
round her as she lay in the sand ; he 
blinded her with kisses. His breathing 
became quick and heavy and he muttered 
between his teeth : 

107 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

" Damn it all ! But you shan't go ! 
There ! Do you hear ? You shan't 
go. I'll have you yet if I kill him for 
it ; you shan't waste your beauty on 
that cripple ; I'll strangle him first. You 
belong to me, Janet yes, yes, now and 
for always." 

He had her fast and she felt that her 
power over him was going ; the old 
delirious spell was creeping over her ; his 
strength and manhood were lulling her 
soul to sleep again, and a frenzy shook 
her. He leaned over her as if he would 
devour her ; his lips pressed hers closely 
and feverishly, and she saw the animal 
rising in him beyond all control as their 
eyes were riveted together. 
" Dunnot ! " she screamed. 
But he burst out with an oath and swore 
he would have her. Her lips tightened 
and with a quick movement she freed her 
hands and with all her strength she pushed 
him from her, as she said in a voice which 
made his heart beat madly : 
" Stand up ! Thou't nobbut a coward." 
Then slowly and with set teeth the words 
came hissing to him. " Listen ! I hate 
thee, I say hate thee ! " 
108 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

He was sobered and stood up ashamed of 
himself. 

" Forgive me ! " he said ; " I was mad ; 
but it was your face, Janet, and and 
your devilish coldness ! " 
"Is that how you do love me ? " 
She sighed wearily. 

"Is that how men folks love ? That sort ? 
You'd kill him and hurt me and only fill 
yoursel' a'ter all like a pig wi'out a ring 
through its nose ? " 

" And what about you ? Where's your 
love that you told me of last week ? " he 
said more gently. "YouVe maddened 
me, that's all, and I'm a blundering idiot 
to frighten you. But, dearest, where's 
your love I felt so sure of before ? " 
She looked out towards the rippling waves 
as they crept in on the big yellow sands, 
but she said nothing, only sighed as she 
shrugged her shoulders. 
" Speak, Janet," he said quickly ; "out with 
it. Did you lie last week or are you lying 
now ? Speak, girl." 

She looked at him in a stupid way as she 
clasped the loose folds of her bodice with 
both hands ; he noticed how her dress hung 
on her, and how aged she had become. 
109 



1 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

"I'm shamed/' she said. "It were all 
right last week. What we did seemed no 
uglier to me then than bathing in yon sea ; 
but now," she shuddered, " I feel a big 
stain on me as I cannot flick off noways, 
and I'm fain to tell the only one as 'ull 
likely forgive me." 

The man was getting bored. Women, 
women, women, he thought, all the same 
the world over ; ready enough to rake up 
hell-fire, and then fly screaming at the 
smoke and flame. He had foolishly 
imagined that Janet had " grit " enough in 
her to keep passion fresh and strong and 
free from morbid regrets and useless taunts. 
It was a great nuisance, for he really cared 
for her, and now these tantalising women's 
fooleries were going to interrupt their 
pleasure. He tried to pacify her. 
" Look here, Janet, my girl ! Just listen 
to me for a minute. You're like all good 
women bless you for it too nesh over 
these things. I assure you, dear, we've 
done no real wrong ; it's only your rotten 
straight-laced land-rules over these things 
that's worrying you. It is, indeed. Just 
look at the thing fairly for a second. Kit's 
no more a husband to you than that log of 
no 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

wood." He pointed to a piece of old 
mast, lying on the beach, which had become 
partially buried in the drifting sand. " He's 
done for, and you know it. You surely 
don't want to spoil his last years by telling 
him what's come between us. Now, that's 
wrong, if you like, to try and disturb a poor 
devil of a cripple who's lopped off from 
women and life altogether before his time." 
" Dunnot ! " she said. 
" The fact is, Janet, you know well enough 
the thing is done and can't be mended 
now, do what we will." 
" It's all lies," she said. 
" Nonsense ! to hold your tongue isn't 
lying ; we've got to shut our mouths over 
this, and that's all." 

" You dunnot see," she said wearily. 
" With your sort love means mostly that 
that " she stammered "what you 
and me knows but that ain't all to 
wenches, I'm thinking. Kit do belong to 
me like as if I'd weaned him and it's all 
lies, I tell you," she ended abruptly. 
He looked at her closely and bit his lip. 
" What do you think will happen if you 
do tell him, Janet ? " he asked, with the 
faintest trace of a sneer on his mouth. 
Ill 



I 
KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

" I dunnot know," she answered. 
"Well, I'll tell you. If he has a bit of a 
man left in him, he'll tip some thickset 
mate of his to come and tan my skin for 
me ; if he's a mawk, it'll kill him." 
"Then why," she wailed, "why did us 
do it?" 

He coughed and pointed to two flies 
crawling on his hand, but she had not 
taken her eyes from his face. " Why did 
us do it ? " she muttered. 
The why was taken up by a big bee who 
buzzed the question in his ears and flew 
off at last with a whizzing sound of insect 
laughter. 

"You don't love me, Janet," he said 
despondingly, as he looked into her sad 
eyes " not a bit, dear ; I've been a stupid 
fool to believe what you said." 
She shivered. 

" You came to me," he went on gently, 
resolved to try a different plan, " rubbed 
off some of my low ideas about love, and 
now " he eyed her keenly " you throw 
me off again to go back to bought women." 
She stared at him blankly. 
" What ! " she said suddenly. 
"You see," he continued, thinking he 
112 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

was influencing her, " men all take love or 
lust ; we're made like that and it'll always 
be so whatever the goody-goody sort say." 
He laid his big hairy hand across his open 
throat. " It's here, there, everywhere, you 
know, all over a man, and will out if he 
has to go to hell for it." 
"What will?" she asked. 
He laughed. 

"Why, it," he said "sex or what you 
like to call it ; I don't know what women 
think about these things, but a man can't 
live unless he has women." He slipped 
both thumbs in the thick yellow folds of 
his belt and whistled. " Mind ! it's a 
damned nuisance and often enough it's 
more fag than anything else, but it's there, 
and you women have the whole thing in 
your hands. You pitch us into lust one 
day and then stand bolt upright like saints 
the next and offer us milk and water 
instead of the first red love wine." 
She blushed why, she could not quite 
tell, but her eyes fell and her hands shook 
a little. 

" Yes," he said harshly ; " men all take it 
one way or another ; it can be bought 
like tobacco or rum ; that's one sort ; 
113 8 



1 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

the other sort, I'm thinking, isn't much 
better, for I believe you pure women play 
the same game with different cards behind 
the screen." 

cc I dunnot know what you mean by that," 
said Janet, simply. 

" Oh ! nothing ! only you good women 
are always so afraid and ticklish about 
little things. You can never go the whole 
length of love ; you offer us sugar-sticks, 
and when a man opens his mouth to bite 
you scream and hide the thing away for 
fear some other sinner should catch you, 
then you see " he laughed again 
" you've made a poor devil's mouth water, 
and so he must drink somehow, and then 
he damns himself and some other woman 
in ^uick sticks." 

She only dimly caught his meaning, but 
her face grew whiter and the large rings 
under her beautiful blue eyes darkened. 
" Then I've done hurt to both of you ! " 
she said. 

" Well that's about it," he answered, 
thinking her pity and remorse might make 
her yield to him. " I wonder if you really 
love either of us ? " 

She sobbed. Great deep breaths shook 
114 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

her whole body. It was not the hysterical 
grief of an over-wrought and somewhat 
shallow femininity, but the convulsive 
throes of a woman in extremity. The 
man watched her and pitied her. Poor 
souls, he muttered to himself ; it was 
always like this ! They irritate and attract 
at the same time. So yielding and soft 
and lovely in their utter abandonment to 
sentimentality of passion, and then 
plunged into despair or weakness when 
their own actions begin to work out 
logically. He looked at her tenderly 
from head to heel and noted her singular 
grace and strength, and a curious feeling 
crept over him, a feeling of longing to 
protect and to always live with this woman 
who had come so suddenly into his life. 
He began to think that perhaps there might 
be a new sort of happiness in always being 
near a woman who puzzled and charmed 
him with her fresh goodness which did 
not smell of either parsons or books. He 
knelt down on the sand near her and 
folded his arms about her waist as she 
stood sobbing. 

" Dunnot," she said gently, as she bent 
and unloosed his hands. He obeyed her 



1 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

at once and she sat down near him. He 
began to feel curiously afraid of her, and 
his voice sounded thick and unnatural as 
he spoke to her. 

" Janet, Janet, listen to me ! Come ! try 
and cheer up a bit ! Let's drop this 
confounded subject ; tell me, just once, 
that you care for me, and I'll be satisfied 
and wait for you yes, I will, my dear." 
His face had grown paler. " I will, in- 
deed until you feel you can come. I 
will, upon my soul, Janet, for I love you, 
as I have never loved anyone before." 
He spoke the truth, and she believed him 
and smiled through her tears. 
" Thank you for that," she said. 
His eyes were grave and tender as one 
of her tears fell on his hand as he held 
both of hers, and his thick under -lip 
quivered. 

" Hush ! hush ! Janet ; you frighten me. 
I will not hurt you nor force you ! I 
will wait ! Wait for years ! but tell me, 
darling, just once tell me you love me ? " 
She stammered out between her sobs : 
" I dunnot know ; I seem to know naught 
now, naught but that I mun tell that 
mon ; the thought o' that fairly eats into 
116 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

me the thought that I've lied to him and 
him so straight and fair and good to me." 
She lay back in the sand and her sobs 
came at longer intervals. 
" You see," she said, " I knew naught 
about things, seemly, till last week ; I've 
been a wife all these years and yet " she 
stammered and blushed "it seems now 
as I do understand more what God Hissel' 
kens over women. I can't put it i' straight 
words even to mysel', though I've 
moithered my brains all night over it." 
The man watched her and longed to touch 
her ; a sweeping rush of desire simply to 
kiss her hand took hold of him. For 
the moment that was all he wanted just 
to take that long firm hand and hold it 
between his in an ecstasy of silence, but he 
never moved ; something held him back, 
and he looked at her hot face and burning 
eyes. 

" What else ? " he said stupidly. 
"We've longings like you," she started, 
and then sat and faced him "yes, I'll 
say out for once what's crazing me we're 
not cold and frightened like you do say ; 
we're just as fierce, just as warm and" 
with a gasp "just as mad over the flesh 
117 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

of what we do love as you, and madder, 
too, for we can't rend ourselves from what 
we've kissed noways no, not noways, and 
you men folkses can." 
" But you are going to leave me ? " he 
said, meaningly, as he bent over her. 
" I dunnot know," she said " I only know 
as I can never leave him no, not for no 
one, and not if God Hissel' told me it were 
right and fit as I should." She clasped 
her hands together and gazed out to sea. 
" We comes to love the men as we does 
for as we grows to love the childer we has 
pains for. When I'm mendin' Kit's coat, 
and I comes on a rubbed place like as 
seems to be a bit of hissel', I feels summat 
come over me as I believe is the same sort 
as men folkses feel when they've got a 
wench all to theirsel's body and soul 
for the first time. It's not fudge," she 
said, as she saw a smile in his eyes " I 
know it isn't, for I've seen it i' other 
wenches when they're knittin' or puttin' 
up their men's baggin' i' hayin' time. 
Women live on bits o' things men needs 
hunks of everything, but our bits taste as 
sweet to us as your hunks to you." 
He scarcely heard what she said ; he was 
118 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

trying to understand what had come over 
him ; he looked round on the miles of 
yellow sands and then out to sea. Not a 
soul was near. He was strong, she was 
only a woman they were alone and she 
was absolutely in his power, and yet he 
was amazed at the strangeness of the 
situation he had not even the courage to 
take her hand and hold it for an instant 
close to his heart. He gazed at her in a 
stupid way, like a man in a dream, and 
asked : 

" Did you speak, Janet ? " 
" I were only saying that when a woman 
has done for a man, fettled his house for 
him and tended him and got used to his 
voice and his ways, it don't really matter 
if he gets crippled like Kit ; he's hers 
she can't get free of that, and she can no 
more get loose from him than she can from 
her own guts." 

He gazed at her in bewilderment : 
"But, Janet," he hesitated, and added 
nervously, "if you really feel like that, 
how can you ahem ! love two men ? " 
She blushed and faced him, and her deep 
voice vibrated as she answered quickly : 
" I've taken a whole week to puzzle that 
119 



I 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

out, and I'm no nearer seem' things. I 
reckon I'll never find out why what were 
sweet and good to me a week ago is foul 
and bad to me now. I know naught, I 
tell thee naught but one thing, I mun 
tell the mon, and this very neet." 
"Then it's all up," he said stupidly; 
"that's checkmate right enough. I've 
lost you ! " 

" 1 dunnot rightly know ; that's as you 
reckon things. I can't abide lies, and it 
is lies for a woman to cheat her mon. If 
I was a mon I would stand anythin' but 
that that and wheedling, which is 
summat like cheatin' and lyin' in one." 
" Poor devil ! " he said, " it'll finish him." 
" You dunnot know the likes o' Kit," she 
answered sharply. " I'm shamed to go 
and tell him shamed," and her face 
contracted, " but it 'ud finish me if I went 
on actin' to him as I'm doin' now. I must 
bide by his will, and if he shoves me out I 
canna help it, but I reckon he'll perhaps 
sum up the thing straighter than I can or 
you either." 

" It's a confounded business," he muttered. 
" Nothin' matters like lies," she said. 
" Not even love," he answered bitterly. 
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KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

She stood up, and put her hand on his 
shoulder ; her tight grip sent his blood 
hotly through his veins ; what would 
happen next ? He did not care ; a thrill 
of joy went over him as she touched him, 
and he did not attempt to move. 
" Listen ! " he heard her say. " I dunnot 
know much about what goes on out 
yonder, in the big cities where you say 
women sells their bodies for naught but 
common brass, but I can tell you this : " 
her eyes sought his and then suddenly 
dropped and her hand slipped from his 
shoulder " if I hadn't felt a feelin' to you 
as seemed to come fresh and sweet from 
God Hissel', I couldn't have let you come 
nigh me no, nor him neither " pointing 
inland. " I want you to mind that for his 
sake ; it's his wife and not his wanton as 
you've kissed. Mind that always, and 
some day " she laughed softly " I'd be 
rare and glad to see you two grip each 
other's hands. Yes ; I dunnot see why 
not, for you meant no wrong to me, and 
he'll ken that fast enough, I'm thinkin'." 
The man looked at her and smiled. 
" And what about you, Janet ; what do 
you think he'll say of that ? " 
121 



I 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

She crimsoned painfully, and her voice 
shook as she answered him : 
" I'll be fair and tell him everythin' how 
it came like a great wind over me how I 
forgot even him for it how how" 
she put out her hands towards him " how 
somethin' carried me away away some- 
thin' as I've never even felt for him some- 
thin' as strong and awful as death itself 
which cast me down and made me forget the 
mon as I love best i' all the world. Do 
you think he'll not believe me ? I reckon 
he'll perhaps give me the only comfort I 
can get now, for he do love me and and 
he'll believe in me i' spite of every- 
thing." 

" You're a hopeful woman, Janet, and I'm 
a damned fool to have ever tempted you. 
No, I shall never see Kit Trenoweth ; 
women don't know men, my dear, when 
they can talk like you. You'll learn a 
little more by and by. Don't you see 
that if we met, if he didn't shie the poker 

at me, I should have to " He stopped 

abruptly, as he saw he was paining her. 
" No, no, Janet ; you can never under- 
stand ; men are wolves when they really 
love a woman, and wolves don't share 

122 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

their choicest morsels except in fairy 
tales." 

She turned to go, and he made no attempt 
to stop her. He had grown suddenly 
very tired ; his limbs ached as if with 
fever, and noises came in his ears and 
head. He tried to speak, but no sound 
would come ; he willed himself to walk 
towards Janet and take her in his arms, 
but he felt the sensation of nightmare ; 
his legs refused to move, and he saw as in 
a dream the face and figure of the woman 
who was leaving him. She touched his 
hands, and he thought he heard her say 
quite close to him in her Lancashire brogue 
"Bless you," but he was not sure. He 
was sure of nothing except that he must 
be going mad, for the sea seemed to have 
suddenly crept into the sky, and he dis- 
tinctly saw the wavelets over his head and 
heard the dash of the water above him. 
This could only be the beginning of some 
horrible delusion, and he made a tre- 
mendous effort to shake himself into his 
usual self-possession. He moved at last 
and leaned over the brink of the sandhill 
where they had both lain. He shaded 
his face with his hands and gazed across 
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1 

KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

the yellow sands towards the black rocks 
in the distance. A groan burst from him 
as he sprang to his feet, for he had traced 
her as she rounded the cliff. Only one 
idea seemed to possess him as he looked 
at her in the distance the longing that 
she would turn and wave her hands to 
him to give him hope to wait for her. 
She had turned towards him and was 
looking upwards. The setting sun had 
wrapped her in colour ; he stretched out 
his hands towards her and waited for a 
sign, but she turned and went slowly 
behind the black ledge of rocks. The 
man shivered as with cold and cursed the 
fates, for he suddenly realised that she 
could not have seen him, since a heavy, 
dank Cornish mist had spread over the 
sandhills and covered from the eyes of 
the woman who stood in the glow of the 
sunset the figure of the man who watched 
from the hills. 



124 



CHAPTER VII 

" DARN 'ee then ! " said Nan Curtis, as 
she opened her door in answer to a loud 
peal at the bell which made her jump 
quickly to her feet and leave the cleaning 
of her slab. " Oh ! my dear ! be it you ? 
Darn 'ee, woman ! do 'ee want to scatter 
the house on my ears wi' breaking the 
bell pull?" 

She looked at Loveday and snorted, smil- 
ing reproof and welcome at her. " Come 
in, do," she went on, " and sit 'ee down. 
Why ! you're all of a tremble, woman ! 
What be wrang ? " 

Loveday's fat face was bathed in perspira- 
tion, and her eyes seemed rounder than 
ever. She pulled Nan into the kitchen, 
and stood facing her with arms akimbo 
and legs apart. 

" Woman ! " she gasped. " I've tumbled 
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1 
KITS WOMAN: A CORNISH IDYLL 

on the secret o' they weeds at last. Guess ? 
No ! 'cell never reckon it up. Oh ! my 
blessed life ! it's worse nor awful the sly- 
ness o' the minx ! " 

She stopped for breath, and Nan, who 
had seated herself on the horsehair sofa 
opposite Loveday, folded her arms and 
opened her mouth wide, showing the yellow 
tusk which seemed ready to devour gossip 
and scandal wholesale. 
" What the devil do 'ee mane, woman ? " 
she snapped at last. " Don't stan' there 
gapin' at a body, but out wi' it. Is it 
somethin' gone wrang wi' Clibby Kit's 
woman ? " 

Loveday smiled knowingly, and pursed 
up one eye in a suggestive wink. 
" Why ! the whole place 'ull knaw the 
truth afore nightfall. Mincin' jade ! wi' 
her fine face and up-'long airs ; her's been 
seen over Bos Kivven way wi' a chap as 
don't belong hereabouts at all, and " 
with a gasp "they weeds is what I've 
reckoned all along, nothin' but pap to 
stop up Kit's mouth wi', and her's played 
the fool wi' all o' we, sure 'nough ! " 
She stopped a moment to pick her teeth 
with a large brass pin she took from the 
126 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

bosom of her dress, and then laughed 
loudly. 

" Oh ! my Lord ! I'm as glad as if anybody 
'ud given me a mayin' to have found she 
out. Proud upstairt ! as allus seemed too 
good and fine to 'ave a man lay a finger 
on she ! " 

She folded her arms and leaned heavily on 
one leg as she continued : 
"But mind you, mate," and she stared 
fixedly at Nan, " I'm sorry for Kit, for 
it's a whishe job for he, sure 'nough ! " 
" It's blasted lies, I'm thinkin'," said Nan, 
emphatically. " I don't belong to hearken 
nor yet to credit all as I sees, much less 
hears ! Anyways, I'm noane goin' to 
b'lieve that of Janet, or I s'ud think as 
eyes was given to some folkses for the 
very purpose of takin' in their own flesh 
and bluid. Janet be no wanton, I'll be 
bound, and if her's walked wi' a man 
well lat me tell 'ee, Loveday, my dear, 
that noane o' we can throw mud at she 
fur that, fur I b'lieve, if my winders don't 
lie, as you've walked wi' three chaps up- 
'long and down-'long this very week." 
" Walked ! " grunted Loveday, who was 
not very pleased that her full-flavoured 
127 



1 
KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

piece of news should be disparaged in 
this way; "as likely as not I've walked 
wi' chaps, but noane o' 'ee have seed me 
lyin' wi 1 a man naw ! " 
She delivered this speech with full force, and 
waited triumphantly for the effect on Nan. 
" Darn 'ee ! what be 'ee tryin' to do now, 
Loveday ? Flingin' a woman's name i' the 
mud 'cause your own petticoats is noane 
so clean ! I'm shamed fur 'ee. A bit o' 
dirty or measly talk over neighbours is 
right 'nough ; it do mak' the day go by a 
bit quicker and sends a body to bed wi' a 
chuckle, and that often 'nough brings 'ee 
to sleep, if you be a bit waken, but there's 
a broad difference, let me tell 'ee, a'tween 
a bit o' pastime and a lump o' malice and 
envy. Iss ! I do mean what I say," as 
she saw Loveday drop into a chair with her 
lower lip pouting in anger. " Iss ! A lot 
o' talk o'er that woman be nothiri' i' the 
world but bloomin' spite. I likes she fur 
hersel', fur there was no talk o' looks 
when I were made, and I do belong to 
seek beauty outside my own mirror. I'd 
b'lieve flash things o' she, but never what 
you do say, though you swore it on your 
family Bible." 

128 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

" Humph ! " sneered Loveday, netded by 
this new attitude in her friend. " If you 
be fur upholdin' they sort o' things it's 
gittin' time as you and me s'ould be seein' 
less o' one another. I allus was one as 
stood up fur a married woman cleavin' to 
her man, even if he's nothin' but a bundle 
o' chaff, in a manner o' speakin', as Kit be, 
and it do turn my liver and guts sour to 
think o' that mincin' jade kissin' strange 
men and meetin' of 'em agin and agin 
unbeknown to honest folkses." 
Nan was alarmed, for she began to fear 
that Loveday had some reason for her 
venom. 

" Out wi' it, woman ! Who's seen what, 
and which devil have been so close to thy 
earhole as to fill it wi' this foul talk ? " 
Loveday grinned. 

"Did 'ee see me wi' Snowball Jack up 
street a while since ? " 
" No ! " snapped Nan ; " were 'ee walkin' 
wi' a man then ? " 
Loveday laughed coarsely. 
" Yes, woman, I were, sure 'nough, but 1 
weren't lyin' i' the sand wi' 'en and kissen' 
of 'en, and that's what Janet were seen 
doin' of early this arternoon, and him as 
129 9 



1 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

seen she said as how he'd take his oath 
afore God and a whole bench o' jurymen 
as it were noane other but Janet herseF. 
What do 'ee think o' she now eh ? " with 
a triumphant smile. 

Nan stood taut and square, and her short 
skirts seemed to bristle out from her small 
stiff body, as if in protest against their 
owner being snared by a trap of any kind. 
She cleared her throat and spat in the ash 
pan, and then dug her knuckles in a 
friendly way into Loveday's arm. 
" I tell 'ee what I do think," she said ; I 
think that Snowball Jack, if it's him as has 
seed all this moonshine, must be a darned 
fule, for when Janet do go up-'long for 
they weeds, her's well beyond the reach o' 
the eyeholes o' men as bides along o' we." 
Loveday smiled and blew her nose on the 
corner of her dirty apron : 
" No ; her's got within hail for once't. 
Snowball Jack were sent up-'long last night 
to Bos Kivven Cliff to watch fur the 
mackerel boats and to help unload, for 
there's shoals o' fish looked for there- 
abouts, and he were coastin' till three 
o'clock and no boats had been sighted, so 
he coomed home to once't, and I jist met 
130 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

'en wi' his mouth hot to burstin' wi' what 
he'd spied up-'long." 

" He's mistook some coortin' pair fur she, 
I'll be bound. Snowball Jack, seems to 
me, is the onlikeliest man as s'ould spy 
o'er they things ; he do knaw how to 
court, sure enough, wi'out pryin' o'er cliffs 
to get new lights on that job." 
Loveday laughed and smirked as she 
rolled the corner of her apron between her 
fat fingers. 

" What's done i' wedlock and what's done 
out, seems to me, is two different things. It 
cain't be reckoned harm to kiss and cuddle 
beforehand, jist to get your hand in fur a 
long job by and by, but when you're fully 
wed, seems to me, it's worse nor devil's wark 
to chop and change one man wi' 'nother." 
" Darn 'ee, woman ! " snorted Nan, who 
was now putting the finishing touches to 
her slab ; " go to thy home and do some 
chars and forget the lies as thee's heard, for 
I'm certain sure they're lies and that Kit's 
Janet 'ud do yet to plead for both o' we 
over kissin' 'bouts even before the Throne 
at the Judgment time." 
Loveday stared at Nan in a bewildered 
sort of way and sighed. 



1 

KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

" Well ! it's the first time as a neighbour 
'ave told me to go out of her house, and 
all 'cause o' a woman as weren't never fitey 
and s'ould never have come among we 
honest folkses at all. Iss ! I'll holler as 
loud as I've a mind to ; " as Nan put her 
fingers in her ears to drown the angry 
tones which Loveday's high-pitched voice 
had taken. " I were born hollerin', and 
when I do want a mate to understand 
me I hollers louder than be natural to 
me. I'm fair befoolt over this job, and 
I sudn't have thought as my own com- 
panion, as I've knawed for years, 'ud 
tak' sides wi' a loose female agin me." 
She sniffled and applied the apron corner 
to her eye. Nan rubbed away at her 
stove and said nothing for some time ; 
then she suddenly turned round, faced 
Loveday and yapped. Loveday peeped 
from behind her apron and sniffled louder 
than ever. Nan went to a cupboard near 
the stove and brought out a ginger beer 
bottle containing some colourless fluid. 
Loveday sobbed piteously from behind 
the apron, and Nan yapped fiercely as she 
undid the cork. 

" Here, woman ! I canna abide to see a 
132 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

female weep ; it do allus gie me the 
crawls," and she shivered as she spoke. 
" Dry thy eyes, mate, and have a pennoth. 
I do keep it handy for buryin's and sudden 
qualms. I didn't mean any hurt to 'ee, 
my dear, not at all, sure 'nough, but I'm 
thinkin' lately when I do sit here knittin' 
a bit as it's women theirsel's as strips 
women o' chances every bit as close as 
men do belong to do. Somethin' as a 
artis' chap said to me back 'long have 
made me hutch up closer to females than 
I belong to do ; noane o' we be so mighty 
decent as we need be flinging muck at 
other folk ! " 

" Gosh ! " exclaimed Loveday. " Seems 
to me 'ee must be gitten' not exactly, Nan, 
for you've allus been one as 'ud uphold 
the tie 'tween husbands and wives, and it's 
not that neither ; it's the bloomin' cheatin' 
of the jade, wi' her innocent rose-pink face 
and her grainey way, as allus gies 'ee the 
notion as her be mixed wi' different stuff 
to we." She spat on the floor. " I do 
hate she ; her's never once't spoke a seemly 
word to me sin' her coomed to the place, 
and Clibby Kit's house ain't never been 
half the house fur a gossip sin' he brought 
133 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

the maid home. I can reckon the day 
when the old un had it all her own way, 
and then it were somethin' like." 
Loveday's eyes were dry now, and she 
folded her arms and put her head senti- 
mentally on one side. " Oh ! my blessed 
life ! what times they was to be sure ! 
I've had many a tasty bit and many a long 
mag wi' the old un afore Janet corned 
and made all so different like." 
"Drat 'ee!" said Nan shortly, "drink 
this, and don't be sparey wi' the bottle, 
woman ; you're welcome, you do knaw, 
and it'll happen mak' 'ee feel less whishe, 
I'm thinkin'." 

Loveday's eyes gleamed, and she took the 
bottle and poured out a small quantity of 
the fluid without adding any water to it. 
She smacked her lips and looked fondly at 
Nan. 

" My handsome ! it's just splendid. I 
could allus feel chirpy if I'd be sure o' 
gettin' a drop o' that once't or twice i' the 
week. It sends your blood dancin' and 
singin' someway and warms the very 
cockles o' your 'eart. Just a leetle sup 
more, my dear." 
Nan poured out another generous helping, 

134 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

and then raised the bottle to the light, 
grunted audibly, and put it back in its 
place in the cupboard. When she turned, 
Loveday had drunk the second dose and 
was standing up ready to go. 
"Thank 'ee, my dear." Her fat hands 
were spread over her " lower stomach," 
as she called the most prominent part of 
her person. " It's a lovely feelin' I've got 
over me, like nothin' else as I do knaw, 
except," with a grin, " bein' convarted. 
My gosh ! that is a lively thing anyway. 
You do knaw I've gone through wid 'en 
once't or twice, my dear, and it guv me a 
feelin' jist like I have now, a sort o' 
soothin' restful kind o' feelin' as took out 
all the snarls and crusty thoughts as I had 
agin everybody. Have 'ee ever been 
convarted, mate ? " 

Nan showed her large yellow tusks and 
yapped. 

" Yes, woman, but it ended i' coortship sure 
'nough, and afore the bloomin' feelin' had 
passed off I were bein' captained upstairs 
and down till I were crazy. I s'ud never 
'ave been wedded, I'm thinkin', if I'd never 
been convarted, and I've fought shy o' the 
chapels sin', fur I paid fur that bit o' holiday 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

feelin' for six year, and I'm noane goin' to 
put my head in the noose no more." 
" I commend 'ee," said Loveday, slowly, 
and then looking at Nan in a fixed way, 
she said suddenly : 

" Woman ! that stuff as you've guv me 
is doin' me a power o' good. I've been 
nearly thrawin' mesel' over the clift this 
last week or two. I'm most mazed wi' 
thinkin' 'bout things, Nan." She laughed 
stupidly and sidled up to her friend and 
jerked her in the ribs. " I've been goin' 
a bit too fur wi' Snowball Jack, and and 
" she laughed again " do 'ee reckon 
there's much good i' takin' green tea fur 
to git clear agin ? I've drunk pints o' 
it sin' last month, when I were sure." 
Nan looked at her. 
" Thee be a darned fool, woman ! ' 
Loveday smiled. 

"Yes, I do knaw, but it can't be helped 
now ; he guv me some stuff or 'nother to 
drink, my dear, and it were a cold dampin' 
sort o' day, and I took it to keep the 
creeps off of me, and " she sniggered, 
"well, woman, you do know, but I'm 
fearin' it's goin' to be a pest this time. 
Whats'allldo?" 

136 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

"Do!" snapped Nan; "go down on 
your marrow bones and bide your time 
and don't 'ee slime other women wi' foul 
names." 

Loveday whimpered. 

" 'Ee said jist now as how you reckoned 
women s'ould hold by women, and so," 
with a hysterical sob, " and so I told 'ee, 
and all 'ee can do for me seemly is to 
preach at me, and I'm that that weary 
and down i' the mouth till" her sobs 
became louder "till I'm not sure what 
I mayn't do yet 1 " 

Nan went to the cupboard once more and 
sighed wearily as she again brought for- 
ward the ginger-beer bottle. She planted 
it on the table near Loveday, and said 
sharply : 

" Finish it, woman ! " 
Loveday meekly obeyed, and wiped her 
heated face with one corner of her apron 
and blew her nose hastily with the other 
corner. 

"You be the only friend as I 'ave, my 
dear," she sobbed, "and I don't knaw 
what 'ud become o' me if you died or 
anythin' ; I don't indeed ! " 
The gin was beginning to take effect. 

137 



1 

KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

Her head lolled on one side, she sank into 
a big chair, rested her elbows on its arms 
and looked stupidly at Nan, who was now 
sitting taut and grave, with her eyes fixed 
upon Loveday, while her right hand clasped 
the empty bottle. 

" Don't 'ee stare at me like that, woman," 
whimpered Loveday. " I'm no worse nor 
any other up-'long or down-'long, and 
neither him nor me's been foolin' any 
other body ! " She raised her head. " I'd 
scorn to do what some do belong to do, 
play games wi' married men." 
" Darn 'ee ! husht ! " interrupted Nan, 
" there's little pickin' and choosin' i' these 
jobs. It's like walnuts and red cabbage i' 
vinegar ; they're a different sort afore they 
get i' the bottle, but when you comes to 
taste 'en arterwards they're much o' a 
muchness." 

She folded her small thin hands together 
and sighed. Then suddenly she sat down 
near Loveday and smoothed out her gown 
carefully over her knees. 
" I've been thinkin'," she went on slowly, 
" sin' I've seen more o' folkses and things, 
that it's best to hold your jaw and watch a 
bit. No one, seems to me, cain't rightly 

138 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

blame nor yet praise Another body, for it's 
more nor likely 'ee'll praise the devil and 
smut the saint, for some of us 'ave flea's 
eyes fur to ferret out the good and asses' 
ears for harkin' to the bad. The ways o' 
men and women is far 'nough beyond the 
ken o' common folkses, and I sometimes 
reckon that love's a frenzy as He as 'as 
made we hardly can count upon at all at 
times, and " she suddenly remembered 
Loveday, for she had been talking to 
herself " and it be no manner o' use fur 
thee to poison thy blood wi' green tea ; 
it's likely the will o' God for 'ee to bear 
the fruits o' thy pleasuring and, anyway, 
even if it's only a bit o' sport the devil 
be havin' wi' 'ee, it will happen teach thee 
not to grab the next bit o' dirty pleasure 
as comes along to 'ee when thee be too 
drunk to reckon wi' it." 
But Loveday was fast asleep, and her 
snoring made Nan smile. 
" It's a'most as loud as some folkses 
singin'," she said, as she went over and 
looked earnestly at her companion. She 
sighed, and opened the door softly and 
went into the " best parlour " to dust it. 
She rubbed the mahogany framework of a 

139 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

high-backed chair with great vigour, and 
then stopped a moment to take breath. 
Her eyes lighted upon a portrait of a stern 
old man which held the place of honour 
in the room. It was her dead " captain," 
and she sighed once more, and as she 
rubbed the twisted legs of the chair on her 
bended knees, she muttered beneath her 
breath : 

" Darn the bloomin' mag ! it do graw like 
ferns i' the lewth, and nobody, neither 
devil nor angel, can stop 'en. It be like a 
gale o' wind ; yer canna tell where it do 
rise fro' of a suddint like, but it do drown 
a body wi'out showing o' itsel' or tear up 
the houseplace like magic. Ugh ! " 
She glanced out of her big windows 
towards the shore. Regardless of seasons, 
the sea on this summer night was in one 
of its wildest moods. Great white breakers 
dashed round the black projecting rocks, 
and the wind hissed and whistled as if it 
were preparing itself for screaming like a 
crazy woman. Twilight was rapidly deep- 
ening into darkness. A draught which 
came from the loosely fastened sash of the 
window made Nan shudder ; it seemed to 
pierce through every nook and crevice of 
140 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

the room, and intensified the roar and 
scream of the north-east wind, with its 
bass and treble groans and yells as of 
sorrow and pain. To Nan it brought 
strange memories. It was on such a night 
as this that the mates had brought in her 
" captain," drowned by the cold and cruel 
sea, and then she had realised how habit 
and tending had bound him to her, and she 
had grieved for him and half forgotten his 
tyranny and cruelty. A great gust swept 
round the house and seemed to shake it, 
and Nan tried to fasten the window more 
tightly. As she did this she saw a figure 
being swept along round the corner near 
her house. The woman's clothes were 
driven like sails before her, and she could 
hardly stand. Nan exclaimed as she 
watched her frantic attempts to steady 
herself : 

" Good Lord ! her'll be down ; 'tain't fit 
fur a dog to be out." 

She suddenly realised who the woman was, 
and she opened the hall door quickly and 
peered into the street. 
" Come ! " she said sharply ; " come, Mrs 
Trenoweth ; you'll be most killed wi' the 
wind, woman ! Come in and I'll git 'ee a 
141 



1 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

cup o' tea, for I s'ould think this gale o' 
wind has 'bout blowed the brains out of 
'ee ! " 

Janet laughed softly. 

" I canna get my breath," she said. " I'm 
done out, I fancy. Yes, thank you, Nan, 
I'll rest a minute to get my wind a bit." 
She followed Nan into the hall and leaned 
against the door as it was closed behind 
her. The elder woman turned and looked 
at her guest. Janet's beautiful brown 
hair was rumpled and tossed and her 
cheeks were red from the fight with the 
wind ; her dark blue eyes, which were 
shaded by purple rings under them, had a 
wistful light which did not escape Nan's 
keen look of inquiry. She was gazing into 
Janet's face to find the trail of the fiend, 
for Loveday's story had perplexed her 
because of its unlikelihood. She stared at 
Janet, and then yapped, very gently for 
her, for fear of wakening Loveday. Janet 
laughed too. 

" Oh ! " she said with a gasp ; " I've not 
come here of my own will, Nan, I've been 
swept here. I don't believe I could have 
stood on my feet a minute longer." 
" Have you walked far ? " asked Nan. 
142 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

" Yes," answered Janet sharply, " I have 

a good long way ! " 

" Seaweed ? ' queried Nan. 

" No," said Janet. 

Nan smiled. Then she folded her hands 

together in front of her small waist, and 

said suddenly and with a genial yap : 

" Why the devil, woman, cain't I call 'ee 

Janet ? " 

Janet laughed heartily. 

" Why haven't you before, Nan ? I'd 

like it from you, and and from others 

too," she said slowly. 

" Darn 'ee, woman," said Nan, " I wonder 

I've never thought on it afore, but it's jist 

coomed i' my head like a swear word," 

and she fumbled in her gown for her 

handkerchief and blew her nose loudly. 

Then she laughed again and said suddenly 

and rather nervously : 

" Janet ! I'd be very well pleased to have 

a kiss of 'ee, my dear, if it do please 'ee," 

and the yellow teeth snapped together as 

she looked into Janet's face. " I fancy 

there be but few females hereabouts with 

your forthrightness in 'em, and I commend 

'ee and like 'ee for it. Naw ! " standing 

taut before Janet and putting her hand on 

H3 



1 
KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

her arm. " There now, I've said what 
I've wanted to say to 'ee before to- 
day, but a body do feel a bit soft like 
when they set to work telling of a woman 
as they do set store by she." 
She snorted and sidled up to Janet and 
gave her a gentle poke in the ribs. The 
tears had suddenly sprung into Janet's 
eyes ; sympathy just then seemed to crush 
her. With one of those uncontrollable 
impulses which sweep over women some- 
times as intuitions or as madnesses, she fell 
on her knees at Nan's feet, clasped the 
woman's gown with her two long hands 
and bowed her head over them. Nan 
snorted like a wild creature and said 
thickly : 

" Lord a mercy, my dear ! git up to 
once't. Whatever be 'ee a-kneelin' like 
that to an old creature like me ? I'll 
stan' by 'ee, Janet. Iss ! I will. I'll 
keep to my word till I've passed, naw ! " 
The wind screamed and whistled round 
the house until voices could scarcely be 
heard. As it died away in a moan the 
temporary lull seemed to rouse Janet. 
She rose, and Nan, on tip-toe, reached to 
her new friend's face. She took it between 
144 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

her hard, thin little hands and dwelt for a 
moment on its softness with the expres- 
sion one sees in a beautiful woman's face 
as she looks in her mirror. Then she 
kissed the mouth again and again with the 
sharp quick kiss of one unaccustomed to 
tender love ways. 

" There ! " she said, " that's fur always, 
mind. Folk may come and jaw, but they 
won't draw me over anything that you 
may tell me. I'll stan' square to 'ee 
whether I knaw or don't knaw all about 
'ee." 

Janet smiled wearily, but she said slowly 
and almost cheerfully : 
"Thank you for that, Nan. It's a treat 
to know you mean what you say. I'm 

I'm " 

A sudden noise made the two women 

turn. 

Loveday stood in the doorway of the 

kitchen. Her right thumb was in her 

mouth and her face was vacant with 

drunken wonder. 

" My gosh ! " she muttered. 



145 10 



CHAPTER VIII 

OLD Mother Trenoweth was asleep. 
Finding her son silent and inclined to 
doze she had slipped from the kitchen 
into her little bedroom and had lain down 
with a weary sigh. The tempest without 
and her own desponding thoughts about 
Janet and Kit had brought on a mood 
which even the Big Book was powerless 
to dispel. She closed her eyes and 
gradually sank into unconsciousness. She 
awakened suddenly from a disturbing 
dream, in which she saw Kit's legs being 
sawn off with a blunt file, to find Love- 
day bending over her with her finger on 
her lips. 

" Husht ! " she said solemnly, as she 
shook the old woman's arm. " I've crept 
in unbeknowns to Kit there," pointing to 
the inner room ; " he be fast asleep and 
146 



KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

looks as snug as a duck." She laughed 
roughly. " Let 'en sleep, poor fule ; 
it's the best thing as he can do, seems to 



me." 



She sat on a chair near the bed and leaned 
over towards the old woman. 
"Thy Kit 'ave got to knaw a thing or 
two when he do waken, lat me tell 'ee. 
Seems to me as his woman 'ud stank the 
life out o' he and never shed a tear over 
it" 

Loveday scratched her head slowly and 
then jerked out as she pointed to the 
kitchen : 

" Her's been wi' a strange man fur hours 
to-day, kissin' of 'en and cuddlin' of 'en, 
and he sleepin' in there like a lil baaby ; 
a innocent forthright fool he be, who 
thinks no hurt o' she and 'ud never 
believe the truth about she if God HisseF 
told 'en it." 

The old woman sat up and twisted round 
to face Loveday. Her old thin legs hung 
loosely over the side of the bed, and her 
two hands were outstretched on either side 
of her as she leaned forward and peered 
into the eyes of her neighbour. She sat 
speechless with horror. For many months 
H7 



1 
KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

she had tried to overtake Janet in some 
fault ; had watched and waited in the 
hope that her son's wife, through some 
frailty of nature or want of purpose, would 
be found to be made of as common clay 
as herself and her neighbours, and perhaps 
what had chafed her more than anything 
else was the fixed conviction in her mind 
that her quest would be a useless one. 
Her private conviction was the same her 
son had expressed when he declared 
" there is no flaw in she." The thought 
that perhaps Loveday's words were true 
and there was not only flaw but sin in 
this fair saint, whom her son worshipped, 
almost paralysed her, and for his sake she 
now took up the cudgels for Janet. 
"Thee art drunk," she said stolidly to 
Loveday, and her old hands tightened on 
the white counterpane. 
Loveday laughed. 

"Iss, so I be, sure 'nough, but wi' 
different stuff to a woman's face. I'm 
thinkin' as the whole place hereabouts be 
goin' crazy over Janet. Nan's brains, 
seems to me, 'ave got soaked wi' she at 
last, and now you " pointing with her 
fat finger at Mother Trenoweth "why, 
148 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

you, as be her natural enemy, in a manner 
o' speakin', be upholdin' of she. Why, 
woman, do 'ee not recollect how 'ee 'ave 
set me on Janet's tracks yoursel', a'most 
against my own nature, fur to find out 
measley things of she ? Well ! I've found 
out enough 'bout she to earn a Queen's 
pension, and you sit up like a image and 
make ugly faces at me 'cause I've done 
the very thing which you was longin' 
fur me to do. Tain't neighbourly, to 
say nothin' else 'bout it." 
She stooped and pulled up a loose stocking, 
and tied it over her knee with a bit of 
flannel edging which was frayed and black 
with age. Her face was red from the 
exertion when she again faced the old 
woman. Mrs Trenoweth still sat in the 
same posture, except that one wrinkled 
hand fumbled into her pocket for her 
handkerchief. She carefully wiped the 
corners of her mouth and again clasped 
the quilt with the handkerchief still in her 
hand. Loveday waited for her to speak, 
but her mouth was set and she uttered no 
sound. 

" Don't 'ee bear no grudge agin she now, 

Mrs Trenoweth ?" asked Loveday sharply. 

149 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

" Iss, iss ! sure 'nough," she muttered ; 
" but, my dear, if what 'ee do say be true 
it 'ull 'bout kill Kit, and and " the old 
hands were now clasped together " Oh ! 
I'd sooner bear all the mincin' ways of 
forty false females as was ever born nor 
hurt he ! Oh ! Lordy ! Lordy ! it's a 
judgment on we ! it's a judgment, sure 
'nough. What s'all us do ? What s'all 
us do?" 

She whimpered and buried her face in her 
hands. 

" Gosh ! " murmured Loveday ; " here's a 
job ! The muck's set rollin' now and the 
old un's scared at the sight of it. Pity 
but what we'd all of us held our jaws 
'bout she. It do never do to stir a dung 
pile if 'ee've got a tender nose fur stinks. 
Better let it rot and pretend it ain't about 
at all. But this pile 'ave been stirred, sure 
'nough, and we've got to stomach it the 
best way we can." 

The old woman still whimpered, and 
Loveday's face grew graver and graver. 
" I wish Nan was coomed," she said under 
her breath, " for I'm noane fitey to stank 
down misfortune. Look 'ere," she said 
suddenly, "I'll shut up Snowball Jack's 
150 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

mug o'er this job to once't ; naw ! though 
the news by now, I'm fearin', will be like 
the floods a bit sin' gone, whether we will 
or no, right into everybody's door. But 
cheer up ; I'll do my best fur you and Kit, 
Mrs Trenoweth, even if I 'ave to turn a 
willin' Hard over it. A'ter all, I b'lieve 
it's a good bit the itch i' me to be thought 
well of as 'ave pushed me on over this job. 
I've a parcil of proud longings in me, and 
I'm pretty sure as they 'ave spurred me 
on to hate Kit's woman. Her could 'ave 
given me a leg up if her'd 'ad a mind to, 
but her's allus treated me like dung, and," 
with a vicious stamp, " I do hate she fur 
it, fur if you prick her finger and mine, 
you'll find the same bluid i' both o' we 
naw ! I've allus understood as you was 
agin her yoursel', too, Mrs Trenoweth, 
fur many and many a time you and me 
'ave set one another on a heat o' hate over 
she. There were a time when if her'd 
only spoken fair to me likely as not I'd 
have gone as crazed over she as Nan be 
now, and I coomed to knaw that as I 
walked here, for I were struck by Nan's 
way as I left. Her be like one under 
conviction 'bout that woman, and I seed a 



1 
KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

sight afore I left her house as fairly catched 
my breath ! " 

The old woman stared appealingly at 
Loveday and touched her gently on the 
arm. 

"Loveday, my dear," looking shrinkingly 
at the door, "tell me," in a whisper, 
" what have Janet done ? " 
" What weVe all done once't or twice, I 
reckon," laughed Loveday, "kissed the 
wrang man." 

" It's witchcraft, sure enough," sighed the 
old woman." 

" It's nature," snarled Loveday fiercely. 
" Lordy ! Lordy ! " and big tears rolled 
down the old woman's cheeks, " to think 
that I s'ould 'ave lived to see my handsome 
befooled ! " 

" Why ! " interrupted Loveday, " 'ee 
never thought, did 'ee, but what Janet 
were a flash sort all 'long ? Many and 
many's the time 'ee have told me so, and 
now, 'cause it's proved true, 'ee seem 
most heartbroken over it." 
" What s'all us do ? What s'all us do ? " 
whined the old woman. " Kit is bound 
to knaw afore long, and who'll tell 'en, I 
wonder ? It 'ull kill 'en, it will, sure 
152 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

'nough ; dirty lyin' jade her be, and they 
as 'as spied on she be no better. I 'ope 
the Lord 'ull punish she wi' many stripes 
and wi' bitter pains." 

Loveday's face had suddenly grown bright, 
for an idea had crept into her dull brain. 
"Look you 'ere, Mrs Trenoweth," she 
said. " I'll git over this job fur 'ee. Iss, 
I will. I'll tackle Janet my own sel'," 
with a laugh, "and tell her straight and 
square what I do knaw. It'll happen then 
be my turn to mince a bit, I'm thinkin'," 
and her fat hands made a slender flail of 
her apron, with which she flicked her 
knees. " I'll have a forthright talk wi' 
she this very night," she added gaily, " if 
I can only happen on she fur a while 
wi'out Clibby Kit being by, and I'll mark 
her bearing o'er this job and then act as it 
do seem best arterwards. I'm in agree- 
ment wi' you, Mrs Trenoweth, and I 
think as Kit s'ould knaw 'bout this to 
once't, but if her's very repentant," with a 
giggle, " we might spare him most of it, 
don't 'ee see ? Howsomeever I'll face the 
hussey and see if her rose-pink face do 
flush at all eh?" 

She poked the old woman on the knees 
153 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

with her knuckles and coughed signi- 
ficantly. 

" Lordy ! Lordy ! " whined the miserable 
old mother as she slipped from the bed 
and stood before Loveday ; " are 'ee 
certain sure it be true, or is it all a tale 
made up by malice and laziness ? " 
" It be true 'nough," answered Loveday. 
" Snowball Jack see'd it wi' his own eyes, 
and you'll likely enough have a brat to 
tend i' this houseplace one day fur to wit- 
ness to her virtue." 

She laughed coarsely, and then said with a 
sudden impulse : 

" But I'm gittin' sharp i' the tongue agin, 
and, arter all, her's no worse nor others 
hereabouts ; all o' we ain't no great shakes, 
be us ? " with a quick look at the old 
dame ; " but that's the queer thing i' this 
job as her's no better nor we," and a 
gentle smile crept over her face. " I do 
feel more kindlier to she now someway 
than I did afore, and I reckon perhaps 
when I've had a forthright mag wi' she I'll 
likely feel more like Nan do feel towards 
she." Then with bitterness as her face 
clouded again : " No, I shain't neither, 
for maids and wives s'ould have different 
154 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

ways wi' 'en ; I'm certain sure o' that, 
for what's nothin' but a bit of a prank 
wi' one is the devil's own wark wi' the 
other." 

A movement in the kitchen roused both 
the women. 

"Wait!" said Loveday, "I'll go and 
move Kit, for it's he as 'ave wakened, 
and is wantin' of 'ee. It won't do fur 'en 
to see 'ee wi' that look on thy face ; it's 
enough to frighten the craws, much less a 
man like Kit, as do belong to read to once't 
in a body's eyes what's goin' on i' their 
insides. I'll say 'ee be comin' by and by, 
and do 'ee wash thy face and chirp up, 
woman. Leave it all to me, and I'll do fur 
'ee as I would fur my own, naw ! " 
She opened the door and went away, and 
the old woman fell on her knees by the 
bed, and, shaking her head from side to 
side, muttered : 

" Blessed Lord and Saviour ! have pity on 
we ! Tak' this burden off o' we, for it be 
noane o' our seekin'. Have mercy, Lord, 
on a mother's broken heart oh ! be 

gracious " 

She was rudely interrupted by Loveday, 
who had come back and was shaking the 

'55 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

old woman's arm fiercely as she knelt with 
her head bowed over her hands. 
" Mrs Trenoweth ! git up to once't ; Janet's 
come, and I'm too late to jaw she ; her's 
kneelin' like a innocent babe alongside Kit, 
and they be starin' i' one 'nother's eyes 
like two fools jist beginnin' coortship. My 
Lord ! that woman beats a play actor for 
shammin' ! " 



CHAPTER IX 

THE wind of the previous night, with 
its ghoulish yells and mocking wails, had 
suddenly stilled. Nature for a brief hour 
seemed poised between smiles and tears, 
and then, as the dawn slowly crept over 
the shadowy hills and the black cliffs, she 
decided for shine and shimmer, and soon 
the little hamlet of Carnwyn was roused 
to greet one of those luscious days when 
light and colour transform everything. 
The sea was calm, and the little skiffs 
moved on its blue surface as if propelled by 
some mysterious sea elves whose gliding 
motions under the water gave it the 
sapphire tinge by which mortals become 
soothed as by fairy likings. 
Janet watched the sunrise from their little 
window. 
Kit was asleep in her arms, and a smile 

157 



1 
KITS WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

played round his lips as he dreamed. 

Janet turned to look at him, and she 

smiled too as she drew him closer to her. 

The movement wakened him and their 

eyes met. She cradled him in her arms, 

and he hungrily kissed her breast as she 

folded him to her. 

" Janet," he whispered softly. 

" Well, mon," she answered. 

He held her chin between his finger and 

thumb and looked in her eyes ; then he 

spoke slowly : 

" I pity they chaps as uses ringlocks fur to 

keep their wives from flyin' from 'em. 

Janet, thee's been near to the very heart 

and soul of me this night." He stroked 

her head tenderly as he went on. " It's 

fools and worse nor fools that holds what 

they love past bearin'. Look at that gull 

and don't go for to cry, girl it's all like a 

bit of heaven, sure enough." 

Janet sobbed softly, but did his bidding 

and looked out to sea, where she saw 

the upward sweep of a gull whose white 

wings gleamed in the sunlight. Kit 

laughed happily as he kissed his wife's 

hands. 

" Hear her cry ! " he said suddenly ; 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

" she'm free, woman free to go and free 
to come." 

He gazed at her with passion in his eyes, 
but his mouth twitched with tenderness as 
he went on : 

" I do worship thee, woman, wi' all my soul 
and all my body, and and " taking her 
face between his hands, " if thee would 
like that chap fetched Yes ! " with 
emphasis " Yes, by God ! he shall come 
and dwell wi' we, and I'll throttle any bit 
o' jealous devil left in me right away if 
it'll make thee happy again. It have 
come over me like a dream that jealousy 
be the meanest sin i' the whole world, 
for it breeds what it's powerless to 
deal wi'." His face saddened: "To 
lose thee would be 'most death, I do 
knaw, but to hold thee against thy will 
would be hell for us both. It is borne 

in on me and must stand so. If " 

Janet stopped him as she pointed to the 
sunrise. Her voice was low as she 
almost whispered : 

" That's like an answer to both our fears : 
it's summat so calm and grand, and has 
nowt to do wi' men's little ways at all." 
" Ay ! " said Kit. " It's a scare we've 

159 



1 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

both had ; the gossips scared me, and the 
man as thought he loved thee, scared 
thee. We're together now, lass, wi' no 
one by to meddle and mag. It's the 
maggin' that allus rends things abroad 
and gives a couple no chance, whether 
it's in wedlock or out. It's we two and 
we two only as can know and understand 
one the other, and I feel young and 
happy again, 'cause it is thee and thee 
only who can make up what I've been 
ferritin' out in my blind way for months. 
We love one the t'other, woman love 
one another so well we ain't afraid of no 
one not even of someone who tells 
thee I'm a wolf over thee. I am a wolf, 
sure enough, but thee's made me feel 
to-night a longin' to give that other chap 
a handshake. He'll never want another 
mak' o' woman again. Ah ! lass, this 
night beats our marriage night to fits. 
We'm married o'er again more like they 
marry i' heaven, I reckon. Once I 
thought it a dull job as the passons give 
it to us, but, by God, I'm not sure we 
ain't all in a fog down here o'er the 
marriage show. Our notions are a bit too 
musty and fusty here for God's place, I'm 
1 60 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

thinking. I reckon the first lesson over 
there 'ull be a bit like this one you and 
me be learnin'." He laughed and held 
Janet closely to him as he went on in a 
happy voice : " I'm like a child i' the sun, 
woman o'erjoyed at the thought that 
I'd grudge thee nothin' i' the whole world, 
nothing, mind not even his chiel ! " 
He cleared his throat, and his chest 
rose and fell. With a sudden movement 
Janet turned and looked at him. Her 
face was bathed in light, for the sun had 
now risen, and its slanting beams made 
the dust specks in the room roll and 
dance, as if to keep time with the glad 
twitting of the birds outside, who were 
busy drilling their youngsters for flight. 
" Mon," she said slowly, and her face 
was alight with wonderful rest and happi- 
ness " mon, thee thee and no other 
art all as I want i' this world. Yes " 
as he shook his head ; " it's truth ! If for 
one mad hour I lusted for that man as 
I've telled thee on, with that hour it 
passed from me as if it had never been. 
He told me hissel' as it were just that 
way as men folkses feel like often 'bout 
women women, too, as they happen never 
161 ii 



1 
KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

clap eyes on again ; just feelin's as come 
and go like those of the beasts i' the field." 
She shook her head slowly from side to 
side and took her husband's hand in her 
large firm one and kissed it tenderly as 
she hung over it. As she stroked it 
gently with her other hand, she went on 
in a low happy voice : 
" Eh ! But, lad ! if thy fingers were took 
like thy legs and all thy body turned white 
like the lepers the Bible tells on, dost 
thee think now as thou wouldn't be the 
sweetest and gradliest lad to me i' all the 
world?" 

She fondled him and crooned over him, as 
she continued : 

" Fur why ! 'Cause thee've understood 
as no one else could, as yon man never 
would i' all the earth, and as I can't even 
rightly mysel', how it was as I were mazed 
wi' life and took the rope length as you 
gave me." 

She laughed softly and closed his hairy 
hand between her own two brown ones : 
" You may let the rope go, mon ! Yes, 
the whole length of it, and 'cause you'll 
never tighten it nor yet knot it, I've a 
mind to stop. The queer part is I'm 
162 



KIT'S WOMAN : A CORNISH IDYLL 

noane repentin' as I ought to, for if I'd 
never gone from thee for that day I should 
never i' all this world know what I know 
for sure now : that that " she hesitated 
a moment and then held him close to her 
breast " that it is thee, and not him nor 
yet no other, as I do love as a woman 
loves a mon." 



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164 



BY FORD MADOX HUEFFER 

"THE SOUL OF LONDON" 

Imp. i6mo. 55. net. 

" It is long since we came across a more attrac- 
tive collection of essays on any subject, and the 
author is to be heartily congratulated on his 
success." The Morning Post. 

" 'The Soul of London,' published to-day, is 
the latest and truest image of London, built up out 
of a series of brilliant negations that together 
are more hauntingly near to a composite picture 
of the city than anything we have ever seen 
before. . . ."The Daily Mail. 

' ' Londoners should read this book ; and even 
more certainly should countrymen and denizens of 
provincial cities read it." The Standard. 

" There have been many books on London, 
written by literary men, statisticians, reformers. 
But no one has achieved or attempted what in this 
book Mr Hueffer has done with power and fine 
insight." The Daily News. 

LONDON; ALSTON RIVERS, LTD. 



165 



BY FORD MADOX HUEFFER 

THE 
HEART OF THE COUNTRY 

Imp. i6mo. 55. net. 



" We have had ' Country ' books of the most 
varied character, from that of Gilbert White to 
those of Richard Jefferies ; but Mr Hueffer has 
taken a new and interesting line of his own, and 
his really beautiful work will assuredly make him 
many friends." The Daily Telegraph. 

"There may be several opinions on the unity 
of the book ; there can only be one, and that 
ENTHUSIASTICALLY ADMIRING, about 
the parts of which it is composed." The World. 

" There are not many men writing English just 
now who have the talent or will be at the 
pains to turn out sentences and paragraphs so 
pleasing in texture and design as the sentences and 
paragraphs of Mr Hueffer .... who is an 
accomplished artist in the handling of words." 
Sunday Sun. 



LONDON t ALSTON RIVERS, LTD. 



166 



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